Pan-Seared Scallops With Horseradish Cream Sauce

June 25, 2020
6 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland
  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 10 minutes
  • Serves 1
Author Notes

Pan-seared scallops are a wonderful thing to cook for yourself, especially once seared in a pool of hot brown butter. This is also a great basic recipe for learning how to pan-sear proteins, and how to pick up the fond (the caramelized bits at the bottom of the pan) with wine, butter, and cream. Borrowing from the flavors of a raw oyster platter, especially horseradish and mignonette, this recipe ends with a gorgeous shallot, sherry, and horseradish cream sauce that just takes the scallops further. You could serve this with a bowl of white rice, pasta, potatoes, or bread (because sometimes beige-on-beige food tastes good and comforting, and we should stop pretending it doesn’t), or a simple green salad. —Eric Kim

What You'll Need
  • 5 large dry sea scallops (about 4 to 5 ounces)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced shallot
  • 1 pinch celery seed
  • 3 tablespoons dry sherry, such as amontillado
  • 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar (white or red wine vinegar is fine, too)
  • 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • Chopped chives, for garnish (optional)
  • Lemon wedges, for serving (optional)
  1. Pat scallops dry with a paper towel or clean kitchen towel and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat a small skillet over medium-high heat and melt the butter in it. Add the scallops and cook about 2 to 3 minutes on the first side without touching, then flip and cook another 1 to 2 minutes on the second side, just until they’re opaque. Remove scallops from the pan and set aside somewhere warm.
  3. Taking the pan off the heat, add the shallot and celery seed and sauté about 1 minute. Place pan back over medium heat this time; add the sherry, vinegar, and horseradish; and let bubble up and reduce by half, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the cream and bring to a gentle simmer to warm through and reduce sauce slightly to your desired thickness, another minute or so.
  4. Transfer the sauce to a plate, then top with the scallops. Garnish with chopped chives and serve with lemon wedges.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • FrugalCat
  • Eric Kim
    Eric Kim
  • VickiProffer
  • Alice Birdsley
    Alice Birdsley
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.

4 Reviews

VickiProffer April 7, 2022
This recipe is wonderful!!! I have made it several times with rave reviews. My husband said it was restaurant worthy and a keeper!
Alice B. December 7, 2020
I’ve made this 3 times now. This sauce is FANTASTIC. Versatile enough to serve with chicken and steak too. Add sautéed mushrooms as a lovely addition!!! Love love love it. I was out of shallots once and used green onions and turned out just as great!
FrugalCat July 3, 2020
I made this with bay scallops (the little one)-just kept stirring them around in the pan. Delicious recipe- don't let expensive sea scallops scare you off! The bay scallops are a LOT cheaper.
Eric K. July 7, 2020
Thank you for mentioning bay scallops! An earlier test of this recipe actually used bay scallops, and I loved it.