Why It Works
- Thoroughly drying the scallops by salting them and blotting with paper towels gives you a nice dry surface that browns far more efficiently.
- Using a heavy pan over extremely high heat guarantees a thick crust without overcooking the center.
Deeply browned scallops with a sweet, caramel-colored crust and a tender, springy center that's never rubbery. That's what we're all after—here's how to achieve it.
- 1 1/4 pounds fresh dry sea scallops (see note)
- Kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon vegetable, canola, or grapeseed oil
Place scallops on a layer of paper towels and season with salt on all sides. Top with more towels and thoroughly pat dry. Let rest in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. Remove and pat dry again. Season lightly with more salt. Heat vegetable oil in a large stainless steel or cast iron skillet over high heat until lightly smoking. Add scallops, leaving space between each one to prevent excess steaming.
Cook scallops without moving them until well browned on first side, about 1 minute. Carefully flip scallops and cook until second side is browned, about 1 minute longer. Transfer scallops to a paper towel–lined plate to drain. Serve immediately.
"Dry" scallops are fresh scallops that have not been chemically treated to retain moisture. Look for scallops that have a fleshy, translucent white or pale tan color. Avoid "wet" scallops, which are pale, milky white and often sitting in a pool of milky liquid. If the scallop "feet" (the small, hard muscles attached to the main bodies) are attached, they should be removed and discarded before cooking.