You’ll love the bold flavors in Garlic Lemon Butter Scallops. The beautiful sear on the outside and creamy inside are such a wonderful combination.
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I’ve eaten seafood all my life, but I never ate scallops as a kid. That’s probably because my parents didn’t cook them. As an adult, I ate them occasionally, but only when they were part of a dish. I’m very picky about the seafood I eat here in Oklahoma. Bodean Seafood in Tulsa is one of the only places where I buy fresh seafood, because they fly it in twice daily.
I don’t get to Bodean very often, so when I do I’ll usually stock up and then eat fish for several days at a time. I usually only buy salmon and shrimp, but occasionally I’ll branch out. The first time I branched out I made Clams & Mussels in Garlic Butter Wine Sauce, and I absolutely love it. I’ve got several recipes in the pipeline for when I’m in the mood for shrimp, and one of my favorites is Shrimp Fried Rice.
What I like most about any reputable fish monger or butcher, is the staff. They are knowledgeable, helpful, and willing to share tips and cooking methods. My first scallops recipe was good, but not very exciting; I simply seared them in butter and served them over risotto. I made it once more, but then didn’t buy scallops again for about a year. The next time I went to Bodean I chatted with the fish monger and he gave me some recommendations. That’s how Garlic Lemon Butter Scallops was born
GARLIC, BUTTER, AND LEMON…OH MY!
Yes, there’s a lot of garlic. Yes, there’s butter. But that’s what makes Garlic Lemon Butter Scallops so divine. I used to always use Smart Balance spread, to save calories, and it does work. This time I used real butter, and it makes such a difference. Butter has so much more flavor, so it’s well worth the tradeoff.
I use sea scallops for Garlic Lemon Butter Scallops. I prefer the meatier, larger scallops when that is the whole dish. The smaller bay scallops will cook more quickly, so you’ll just need to adjust the cooking time.
The key to the gorgeous color of Garlic Lemon Butter Scallops is to sear the scallops on both sides. Real butter does a better job of that than spread or even oil. The most important part is to leave the scallops alone. They’re ready to turn when the edge of the bottom is golden; if you turn them too quickly, or move them around, they won’t be golden.
I love the flavor of these Garlic Lemon Butter Scallops. The sear adds such a nice contrast in texture to the creamy scallop, and the combination of garlic and butter can’t be beat. Sea scallops are large enough that 5-6 is plenty for a light meal. They are also great as hearty appetizers.
KEY INGREDIENTS IN GARLIC LEMON BUTTER SCALLOPS
Butter: I find that real butter works best for the beautiful golden sear on the scallops. I’ve used margarine or spread in the past and it does work, but it’s just not the same
Red Pepper Flakes: A little of these goes a long way to add heat and bite to any dish. I’ll add a little as I melt the butter, and finish with another sprinkle for more fresh heat.
Nonststick skillet: A few months ago I got a new skillet, and I love it. I read a few negative reviews that it lost its nonstick after a few uses, but I use mine regularly and have had no problems to this point. To prevent scratches I bought a couple of silicone utensils, and always hand wash the skillet with a non-abrasive sponge.
I eat Garlic Lemon Butter Scallops almost as soon as they come out of the pan. You can allow them to cool a little, but to me it’s best to eat them pretty quickly. Besides, with the gorgeous scent of the butter, garlic and scallops, you won’t be able to resist diving right in.
I wasn’t a fan of lemon in dishes until just recently, because too much lemon makes dishes much too tart for my tastes. Lemon has a bold flavor, so you really don’t need much to completely change a dish. I squeeze a little lemon juice into the garlic and butter before I add the scallops, and then finish the Garlic Lemon Butter Scallops with lemon zest.
I definitely need to buy scallops more often, so I can make Garlic Lemon Butter Scallops and experiment with other recipes.
SHOP THIS RECIPE
- 12 sea scallops
- salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 3 Tablespoons butter
- 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice (more or less, to taste)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes (or more, to taste)
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- zest of 1 lemon
- parsley, for garnish
Pat scallops dry with paper towels. Season both flat sides with salt and pepper.
In large skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add lemon juice, red pepper flakes and minced garlic, and cook for 2 minutes, until garlic is fragrant
NOTE: I use a 12" skillet. If you use a smaller skillet, you will need to reduce the amount of butter. You want enough butter to coat the bottom of the pan, but if you use too much the scallops will steam. It's better to start with a little less, and then add more butter if needed.
Add scallops to skillet. Be sure to leave space between the scallops, or they will steam and not sear. Don't move them for 2-3 minutes! When you see the bottom edge beginning to caramelize, carefully turn scallops over with silicone tongs. Cook on other side for another 2-3 minutes, until bottom is the same caramel color.
Remove scallops from skillet, and drain slightly on paper towels
Add remaining red pepper flakes, drizzle with garlic lemon butter, and top with parsley and lemon zest. Enjoy!