Recipe: Simple Seared Scallops

Simple Seared Scallops

Scallops are one of those foods I’m eager to order in a restaurant but always hesitated to make at home. I’m not sure why I’ve always felt that way, to be honest. Every scallop recipe I looked at appeared to be fairly easy, and none of them needed much time. So it had always been on the back of my mind to try making them — I just never really felt I had the opportunity.

But recently, I was looking for fish to make for supper one night when I noticed that scallops were on sale. I stared at them for a moment, wondering if I should take some home and attempt making them. And then I grabbed them. There were four in each package, and they weren’t very expensive, so I figured I wouldn’t be wasting much food or money if I made a complete mess of them.

Well, I suppose making a mess of them might have resulted in some food poisoning, but I was confident that I would be able to at least cook them long enough to negate that risk.

Raw scallops

When I returned home from grocery shopping — and after putting all of my groceries away — I started searching for recipes. I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do with the scallops, but I knew I wanted to start with something reasonably simple.

After looking for a while, I found that none of the recipes called for everything I was in the mood for. They did seem to have some common elements, though: searing the scallops was quick and easy, and you don’t need to add too much seasoning. I decided that those common elements were enough for me to work with, and that I therefore didn’t need an exact recipe to follow.

Seasoned scallops

After checking out my seasoning collection, I decided that the simple combination of salt, pepper, and garlic would be the way to start. I didn’t want anything that would overpower the flavour of the scallops themselves, but I did want to add a little something to them. I also wavered between searing the scallops in butter or olive oil — both were used in the recipes I looked at online, and I knew that both would do a good job of complementing the scallops and seasoning.

In the end, I decided to go with butter; I just seemed to be in a butter kind of mood that night, to be honest.

Searing scallops

Once the other pieces of my meal (broccoli and mushrooms, which paired really well with the scallops) were nearly ready, I got started on searing the scallops. I’ll admit, I wasn’t sure how to tell if the scallops were ready or not. I did a quick double check to see what people online recommended, and then dove right in.

As it turns out, it was a bit easier to determine when the scallops were ready than I was expecting. After about two minutes, the bottom sides of the scallops turned a nice golden colour. I flipped them, and within another two minutes, the tops had the same golden hue.

My winging-it recipe ended up being pretty foolproof. Even the one or two scallops that were slightly overcooked weren’t noticeably so; honestly, the only thing telling me that they were was the slightly darker colour they had in some spots. So if you’re new to making scallops, this recipe is one you might want to try out — it’s simple, it’s quick, and it gives the scallops a great flavour.

Simple Seared Scallops


  • 4 scallops, rinsed and patted dry
  • 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter or margarine
  • Salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste


  1. On a small plate, sprinkle scallops with the salt, pepper, and garlic powder; you likely won’t need much.
  2. When the other components of your meal are nearly ready, melt butter or margarine in a small pan over medium to medium-high heat.
  3. Place the scallops in the melted butter; make sure they don’t touch.
  4. Once the bottoms of the scallops have started to brown (no more than two minutes), flip them over. Allow the bottoms to brown again, but don’t let the middle of the scallops change colour.
  5. Serve immediately.

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