Weeknight Cooking

Foil-Packet Scallops With Caper-Raisin Butter

February 19, 2019
11 Ratings
Photo by Bobbi Lin
  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 20 minutes
  • Serves 1
Author Notes

Over the years, my "TV dinners" have evolved and gained new meaning as I've grown more comfortable in the kitchen. Now they're simple, nutritious, premade dinners that are waiting for me in the freezer or fridge: say, a sheet-pan of spiced chicken thighs, a breaded and ready-to-fry cube steak, or a foil packet of sweet, plump scallops and rainbow chard. Premade means something different for everyone; for me, it means doing 90% of the work in advance, and leaving 10% (the cooking) to the very end. Not that the 90% here is very hard. You're just filling a large sheet of aluminum foil with a protein and a vegetable (in this case, the scallops and chard), sealing it, and saving it in the fridge to be baked off later in the week when you need a 15-minute meal in a flash.

The true star here is the caper-raisin butter that runs through the entire foil packet. I first read about this golden elixir in Tacos: Recipes and Provocations by Alex Stupack and Jordana Rothman, who got it from Jean-Georges Vongerichten. "This scallop preparation helped make JGV's flagship restaurant a sensation when it opened in 1997," they write in the recipe's headnote. I thought it was the strangest combination of ingredients and had to try it for myself. Now I keep a jar of the stuff in my fridge most weeks of the year. It tastes great with pasta, roasted cauliflower, raw bitter vegetables, and of course, scallops. —Eric Kim

Test Kitchen Notes

Featured in: Foil-Packet Scallops Are the Perfect TV Dinner for One. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • Foil-packet scallops
  • 3 cups rainbow chard, rolled like a cigar and cut into 1/2-inch strips
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 4 ounces scallops (usually about 4 fat ones)
  • 1 tablespoon caper-raisin butter, recipe follows
  • White rice, for serving (optional)
  • Caper-raisin butter
  • 2 tablespoons non-pareil capers
  • 2 tablespoons golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon malt vinegar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  1. Foil-packet scallops
  2. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  3. Place rainbow chard in the center of a large rectangular sheet of aluminum foil. Drizzle over olive oil and season lightly with salt and pepper.
  4. Top the chard with scallops. Smear the caper-raisin butter over each scallop, then season with more salt and pepper.
  5. Fold over each side of the aluminum foil until you have an enclosed square packet. Place on a sheet pan and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the scallops are just cooked through.
  6. Serve with optional white rice and an ice-cold beer.
  1. Caper-raisin butter
  2. Boil the capers, raisins, and water together for about 10 minutes, until the raisins have plumped up and water has reduced significantly.
  3. Puree in a food processor with the butter, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Store in a jar or container with a tightly fitted lid, refrigerated, for up to a week. Tastes great with scallops, pasta, roasted cauliflower, and raw bitter vegetables.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Shelley Neumann
    Shelley Neumann
  • Barbara J Kilian
    Barbara J Kilian
  • Teresa Ann Grado
    Teresa Ann Grado
  • Eric Kim
    Eric Kim
  • Seán Tynan
    Seán Tynan
Eric Kim was the Table for One columnist at Food52. He is currently working on his first cookbook, KOREAN AMERICAN, to be published by Clarkson Potter in 2022. His favorite writers are William Faulkner, John Steinbeck, and Ernest Hemingway, but his hero is Nigella Lawson. You can find his bylines at The New York Times, where he works now as a writer. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @ericjoonho.

18 Reviews

Noreen W. January 29, 2021
How long can the prepared packet stay in the frig before cooking? Later in the week left me confused. Thanks.
Shelley N. February 23, 2020
I finally got to make this for myself tonight and it was very good! No chard so I used kale, tiny scallops and I couldn't wait to get it un the oven so I skipped the puree and poured the whole raisin caper mix over and got cooking. Definitely making again!
[email protected] February 3, 2020
I really wish your recipes were printer friendly. I dont usually take my computer to the kitchen because of grease splatter.
I'd love to try this recipe though.
[email protected] February 3, 2020
found the link... it didnt want to load earlier. sorry about that
Barbara J. September 22, 2019
Random question, what do the raisins do for this? I have a deep deep deep irrational dislike of raisins. I think it's a texture thing, as I don't mind things described as raisin flavors (like my favorite, port).
Eric K. September 22, 2019
Hi! They give a sweetness. I hate purple raisins, too, but I find that the golden ones taste a little milder in their "raisin-ness." Texture shouldn't matter here because they get plumped up and pureed completely, so their purpose is purely flavor.
judy September 6, 2019
I have lovely sous-vide style silicone micro-wave cookware. This was a DREAM in the microwave. I no longer have a stove and am learning to micro-cook, (and not just heat/reheat). I had to use shrimp instead of scallops as I am allergic, but otherwise followed the recipe. Cut stems out of chard, steam for a minute first as sims take a little longer to cook. Also, about half-way through, stir and rearrange for even cooking. I have done roughly this with chicken pieces, using both Thai an Indian curry spice blends. Had not thought to try with shrimp. this was very good, but like the others, I would punch up a bit on the flavor profile as I like my flavors pretty bold.
Anita February 26, 2019
I literally scream with delight anytime I see a recipe or article from you, Eric Kim! Your writing and food bring me so much joy! Can't wait to make this :)
Eric K. March 5, 2019
Robin February 26, 2019
Shouldn't the foil be lined with parchment to avoid leaching from the aluminum?
Ttrockwood February 26, 2019
For the caper raisin butter after step #1 you drain off remaining water before blending? Or just add everything to the blender..? I want to make it with my vegan miyokos butter since dairy butter hates me
Eric K. February 26, 2019
Nope, it all goes in! :) Just make sure you've reduced the water quite a bit during the boiling process.
Mark W. February 25, 2019
Did you sear the scallops at all before placing in foil?
Teresa A. February 25, 2019
What can I substitute for malt vinegar in this recipe? Thanks!
Eric K. February 25, 2019
Any vinegar you’d like! Red wine, white wine, sherry are all good.
Lynn D. February 23, 2019
That butter is good!
Seán T. February 24, 2019
Sounds delicious. Can it be made without a food processor? I only have a blender/nutri-bullet.
Eric K. February 25, 2019
Hey Sean, a NutriBullet would work just fine.