Seared Sea Scallops with Caramelized Corn + Tomatoes
Of all shellfish, my very favorite is scallops. Their porcelain creaminess is so pure and elegant, their bouquet an intoxicatingly sweet brininess. I imagine it to be like mermaid’s breath. For this recipe, I nestle those succulent pillows of goodness on a bed of fresh corn sautéed with bacon, shallots, and thyme. I have three words to describe these scallops–Mmm, mmm, mmm!
Seared Sea Scallops with Caramelized Corn + Tomatoes is the first meal I made for The Man. It was back in the flirting stages of things. Apparently it blew his mind because all these years later he is still around.
The key to the deliciousness of this dish is getting a good sear out of the scallops. And the key to that sear is using scallops that are real and dry.
Real and dry? But whatever do you mean, Naked Ep?
I’m glad you asked.
Sometimes disreputable fishmongers will cookie-cut skate or shark meat and sell it as scallops. More often, however, the scallops will be “wet-packed.” That means they are wallowing in a briny solution that extends their shelf life. In doing so, they soak up a lot of water which means a) you are paying more per pound, and b) it is difficult to get them dry enough to sear them. If you realize your scallops are wet-packed, rinse and dry them very well. In spite of your efforts, they may puddle and become rubbery as you cook them, but then again you might get lucky.
For this succulent ensemble you spoon some creamy corn onto your plate, place four or five or six golden scallops on top, then sprinkle with crispy bacon crumbles, sliced fresh cherry tomatoes, green onions, thyme and a drizzle of aged balsamic. Bliss.
I like to use thinly sliced bacon to make sure it crisps up and crumbles nicely. Sauteing the corn in bacon drippings gives the scallops a fluffy bed of amazing flavor. The wine and cream coax a silky richness from the corn while the tomatoes and balsamic keep it bright. On the tomato front, the lack of flavor from store bought tomatoes often disappoints. Cherry or grape tomatoes are always ready to explode with ripeness, so I reach for those.
Scallops need a large, hot pan for a good sear so they can brown effortlessly. Don’t fuss over them too much. Let them sizzle without interfering, then flip them. They should be sweet and crunchy with tender, springy centers.
NOTE: This recipe fed just the two of us because The Man and I sometimes can’t.stop.eating.all the goodness. You could probably feed four people who don’t have such issues.
NOTE: If you like your tomatoes cooler, use them as a garnish instead of mixing them into the corn. You do you.
I hope you try these delicious scallops. They pair beautifully with a white burgundy–or bubbles, of course.
If you try this recipe, I’d love to hear about it! Leave comments below and tag #nakedepicurean on Insta!
Seared Sea Scallops with Caramelized Corn + Tomatoes (for 2-4)
- 10-12 ( 1 pound) dry-packed sea scallops, side muscle removed
- 2-3 strips bacon, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 scallions, thinly sliced, whites and greens separated
- 1 large shallot, finely chopped
- ¼ cup dry white wine
- 3 cups fresh corn kernels (about 4 ears)
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- 8-10 grape or cherry tomatoes, sliced
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar + more to taste
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1½ teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
1. Lay scallops on a towel lined plate. Pat them dry. Season scallops generously with salt on both sides. Let rest for 15 minutes.
2. Heat a large pan over medium. Cook bacon, flipping occasionally, until it starts to get very crisp, about 3-5 minutes. Remove bacon to a paper towel lined plate. Once bacon cools, crumble it into small pieces. Reserve 2 tablespoons of bacon drippings.
3. Add the butter to the bacon pan and heat over medium heat. Add the scallion whites and shallot and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring. Add the wine; increase the heat to medium-high and deglaze the pan by scraping to loosen any browned bits. Reduce by half.
4. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the corn and warm through. Add the cream and cook about 4-6 minutes, reducing the liquid by ¾. Corn should soften but maintain its crispness. Stir in tomatoes and warm through. Season to taste with S&P and vinegar; keep warm over low heat.
5. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat until shimmering. Hover your hand over the pan. When it is sizzling hot, add scallops, making sure they are spaced apart for even cooking. (You may have to do these in two batches.) Cook scallops on one side until a golden brown crust forms on the bottom, about 2-3 minutes. They should be eager to release from the pan when they are cooked. Reduce heat to medium-low and turn scallops over. Season the scallops with salt and pepper. Cook until just cooked through, about 2 minutes more. Transfer to a plate (tent with foil to keep warm).
6. Stir the thyme into the corn. Divide corn mixture among plates and arrange scallops on top. Drizzle lightly with more balsamic vinegar, if desired. Garnish with scallion greens and crumbled bacon. Season to taste with S&P.