Trouble With Toast

Recipe: Seared Scallops with Lemon Orzo | July 28, 2009

After my foray into fish cakes, I had enough scallops left over for one more meal.  This recipe has popped up on my searches a bunch of times before, but since I generally don’t keep scallops in the house (due to their expense and their relatively short shelf life), I hadn’t actually attempted it until last night.

The same numero uno rule for tofu applies to scallops–make sure they are absolutely bone dry.  Moisture is your enemy here, and it will prevent you from getting the perfect result–a nice, caramelized crust on the outside, and a tender, silky mouth-feel on the inside.  For an example of scallop perfection, see my photo below.  🙂

Seriously, this meal turned out really well.  The orzo cut the richness of the scallops a bit, due to the onions and the acidic punch of the lemon juice.  If I had to register one complaint, it was that the dish didn’t have an element of crunch–though, to be fair, that could easily be remedied with a nice salad or some sauteed vegetables.

Note: Do not attempt this recipe with bay scallops.  Yes, they are less expensive than sea scallops.  However, sea scallops are sweeter and less tough.  Trust me, sea scallops are worth the extra cost, at least in recipes involving just a simple salt and pepper sear.

  • Cooking spray
  • 1/2  cup  chopped onion
  • 1  cup  uncooked orzo (rice-shaped pasta)
  • 1  cup  chicken stock/broth (homemade is best, of course) 
  • 1/2  cup  dry white wine
  • 1/4  teaspoon  dried thyme
  • 2  tablespoons  chopped fresh chives
  • 2  tablespoons  fresh lemon juice
  • 2  teaspoons  olive oil
  • 1 1/2  pounds  sea scallops
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/4  teaspoon  black pepper
  • Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add onion to pan; sauté 3 minutes. Stir in pasta, broth, wine, and thyme; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and pasta is al dente. Stir in chopped chives and lemon juice. Keep warm.

    Heat oil in a large cast-iron skillet (or non-stick, if that’s what you’ve got) over medium-high heat. Sprinkle scallops evenly with salt and pepper. Add scallops to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Serve with pasta mixture.

    Scallops and orzo

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