Want to create a special meal? Something extremely delicious that looks beautiful plated? Giant sea scallops are one of my favorite ingredients for doing just that. They are delicate, tender, and sweet, and go with just about anything. Serve them over creamy risotto, pasta, or vegetables. Or just serve them alone with some type of sauce to accompany.
Cooking large sea scallops is actually very easy and super quick. The major mistakes people tend to make are overcooking scallops or fiddling with them so they never brown. I like to use a non-nonstick skillet, such as a cast iron, for almost all my seafood because I’ve found it produces a much better browned, crispy crust on delicate meat and doesn’t stick if you oil it well. But, you can use any skillet or pan to cook scallops – the key is to heat the oil/butter, plop them in and LEAVE them alone. Don’t fiddle or smash down with the spatula – turn once and that’s it. 🙂
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup finely chopped garlic (about 8 large cloves)
- Juice from two limes
- 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
- 1 pound fresh asparagus, washed & trimmed
- 1.5 pounds large sea scallops
- Red pepper or other vegetables to garnish
- Heat the olive oil and garlic in a small saucepan over low heat. Cook for about 20 minutes until the garlic is soft and pale brown. Add the lime juice and red pepper. Cook for 5 minutes more, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and set aside. This is the mojo de ajo sauce.
- Place the asparagus in a large skillet (with a lid) and add about 1/4 to 1/2 cup water (depending on the skillet size); alternatively, use a steam basket. Skillet steam the asparagus by bringing the water to a simmer and closing the lid. Steam to your desired degree of doneness – I like my asparagus crisp-tender. Remove from heat and plate.
- Rinse and pat dry the scallops. Season with S/P. Add 2 tbsp. of the mojo de ajo oil (not the garlic solids) to a skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the scallops to the oil. Cook for about 2 minutes on one side, drizzling a little more oil over the scallops if needed. Turn and cook another 2 minutes or until done. Scallops are done when they are just turning opaque in the center and are firm to the touch. Place over asparagus, drizzle with olive oil, season with S/P, and serve immediately.