28 May 2010

Grilled Scallop Appetisers

Scallops. Can we ever get enough of them? We love them, with their delicate, sweet flavor. They also cook very quickly, which makes them a hit at our house!

We had some wonderful scallops in January, and still have fond memories of them and the friends who gave them to us. This time we grilled our scallops and drizzled some old balsamic vinegar over them. We ate these with rice, as a first course. They were a perfect way to start a meal.

Scallops can get really tough if you cook them too long, and then eating them is like trying to chew rubber. To avoid that, I cooked these only a few minutes on high heat in a little butter. In order to make them brown and caramelized, I dried them well before I cooked them. If they’re wet when you put them in the pan, they’ll only steam and not really caramelize.

The trick here is to put the scallops in a really hot pan. You want the outside to get wonderfully brown while the inside only barely cooks. (It helps if they’re cold when you start this.) You can see the flesh turn opaque when it’s cooked. You want to cook them till they’re almost cooked through, because when you remove them from the heat they’ll continue to cook. If they’re already cooked through when you take them off the heat, they’ll be tough when you eat them.

Grilled Scallop Appetisers

1/2 pound fresh scallops, cleaned
1 Tablespoon olive oil
Fresh, finely ground black pepper
Old balsamic vinegar

  • Keep the scallops cold until you’re ready to cook them. Wash the scallops in cold water and pat them dry.
  • Put the olive oil in a non-stick skillet, sprinkle with the pepper and heat it until a drop of water dances over the surface.
  • Place the scallops in the pan and cook till they’re not quite halfway cooked. You can see the flesh change color and become opaque. If the scallops are small, like these, this will take two minutes or less. If they're larger, it will take longer--watch them!
  • Turn them carefully and cook till they’re almost cooked through. Remove from heat and thread on a pretty skewer, drizzle with some old balsamic vinegar, and serve with rice.

Serves 4 if they like it and 10 if they don’t.

  • I don’t have a grill, so I use a nonstick pan. You can, of course, thread them on a skewer and do this on a hot grill. Just be careful not to overcook them!
  • You can use other spices as well--paprika, fennel flowers, flavored salts. I prefer them with just a touch of pepper, though. The balsamic adds enough other flavor for me.
  • If you don't have old balsamic vinegar, you can take regular balsamic and reduce it over a gentle flame. (This may take up to 20 minutes.)


Amanda said...

Oh my goodness. I need to make these! I love scallops so much and these look fantastic! :-)

The Best Family said...

what a lovely, simple starter . . . or dinner if you made enough of them . . . ;) thanks for sharing!

My Carolina Kitchen said...

No, I can't get enough of them. Yours are gorgeous and perfectly cooked. I wish we had the big ones in our supermarket. I have to get those beauties when we go to the city. All the more reason to go, oui?

Stella said...

Hey Kate, I feel the same way about scallops, and yours look beautiful. That bowl is really pretty too...
p.s. Did you mean to not list the balsamic vinegar in your ingredients list?

Pam said...

That picture looks like something out of a cookbook!

Carol at Serendipity said...


I love, love, love scallops. I know what you are saying about the rubber. When we get back to Maine, we will have them more frequently.

I will also get that pan at WS when I get back. So much to do before we go back. That cake is calling my name.


Linda said...

Kate these look absolutely delicious!
I would love some right this minute!

Hungry Dog said...

I love scallops. They can be tricky to cook but your tips are all on the mark. I never get tired of them, they always seem like a bit of a treat!

SavoringTime in the Kitchen said...

I do a beautifully seared scallop and yours are done to perfection! How simple and beautiful they are with the drizzle of balsamic.

ButterYum said...

Oh my.... you have my number!


Kate at Serendipity said...

Oh, Stella, thanks! I've added the vinegar to the ingredients list, and a note about what you can use if you don't have the old stuff...

Thanks for your comments. These were really lovely!

Barbara said...

My favorite dish...scallops. And I love them exactly the way you've done them, Kate. I usually use lemon juice, but will try them with balsalmic vinegar next time.

I remember finding those adorable bamboo skewers many years ago in a little store in northern Michigan. They came in several sizes. I adored I can find them everywhere. Aren't they fun? A touch of elegance.

Taste of Beirut said...

Great tips on how to cook scallops the best possible way! yours look caramelized perfectly and the idea to add a touch of balsamic is brilliant, love it.

~~louise~~ said...

Okay, this is really getting scary. First, your scallops look absolutely delectable!

Second, I made scallops last night for dinner. I don't mind saying they were oh so good. However, I never dreamed of caramelizing them in balsamic vinegar. Oh well, twist my arm, I'll just have to buy some more!

Thanks for sharing, Kate...

The Rowdy Chowgirl said...

"Serves 4 if they like it and 10 if they don’t"--Hilarious! I think this would only serve one if I were included!

grace said...

i've said it before and i'll probably say it 390 more times before i croak--meat on a stick has infinite appeal. i LOVE the sear on your scallops here, so they're grand even without the magical skewer. :)

The Gypsy Chef said...

Kate, Simple, delicious and easy. My kind of appetizer!
On my last trip I bought some hazelnut oil at Lynn's insistence. I think it wonderful sprinkled over scallops. Your giving me ideas!

Sophie said...

I only love scallops when they are fresh & perfectly cooked!

these look just fab!