once upon a chef

Pan-Seared Scallops with Lemon Butter


– 12 to 16 dry sea scallops (about ¾ lb. see note) – 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil – 4 tablespoons butter, divided – 1 tablespoon lemon juice – ¼ teaspoon each salt and freshly ground black pepper – Lemon wedges, for serving (optional)

Step #1

Remove the tiny side muscle where sand can hide and rinse the scallops, if necessary (some scallops already have the muscle removed). Dry the scallops very well with a paper towel.

Step #2

Heat a large cast iron pan or thick-bottom nonstick sauté pan over medium high heat until very hot. (Use two pans if necessary to keep scallops from crowding.) Do not use stainless steel, as the scallops will likely stick. Add the olive oil and ½ tablespoon of the butter, and swirl to coat the pan.

Step #3

Place the scallops in the pan and season with half of the salt and pepper.

Step #4

Sear on the first side, without touching or flipping, for about 3 minutes, or until golden. Using tongs, turn the scallops over, season with the remaining salt and pepper, and sear for 1 to 2 minutes more, until the scallops are just cooked through.

Step #5

Move the scallops to a plate. Remove the pan from the heat and add the remaining butter to the skillet. Add the lemon juice and swirl the pan a few times, scraping up any browned bits with a wooden spoon.

Step #6

Add the scallops back in the skillet, baste with the sauce to warm, and then divide onto 4 plates, using all the sauce. Garnish with lemon wedges, if desired.