Top | Margarett Waterbury

Seared Scallops

(recipe, Margarett Waterbury)


Scallops are an exercise in self-control in more ways than one. You could also call them "What’s for Dinner When You are Pressed for Time but Not for Money."


  1. 6 dry-pack scallops, size U-12 or U-15
  2. Salt and pepper
  3. 1 Tbsp. canola or coconut oil
  4. 1 Tbsp. butter
  5. 1 lemon wedge (optional)


  1. Pat the scallops dry with a paper towel, then season them with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper.
  2. Place a well-seasoned skillet (stainless steel or nonstick) over high heat. Add the oil and butter; it may seem like a lot, but you don’t end up consuming it all, and it’s critical to avoid sticking.
  3. When the butter is beginning to brown and the pan feels blazingly hot when you place your hand a few inches above it, slip in the scallops.
  4. Set a timer for 2 minutes. Don’t touch, move, or fuss with the scallops at all for those 2 minutes. (I find this so challenging that I have to actually walk away or do something else while that Maillard reaction runs its course.)
  5. When the timer goes off, the tops of the scallops should still be raw and cold, while the bottom side should have a perfect, sweetly caramelized sear. Flip the scallops, situating the uncooked sides, if possible, on new areas of the pan.
  6. Cook the scallops for exactly 1 more minute, then quickly remove them from the heat and serve, seared side up, with the lemon, perhaps on a bed of lightly dressed greens, angel-hair pasta, or other suitable foil that won’t detract from their delectability.