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.)