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
- Prep time 10 minutes
- Cook time 10 minutes
- Serves 1
large dry sea scallops (about 4 to 5 ounces)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
finely minced shallot
dry sherry, such as amontillado
sherry vinegar (white or red wine vinegar is fine, too)
Chopped chives, for garnish (optional)
Lemon wedges, for serving (optional)
- Pat scallops dry with a paper towel or clean kitchen towel and season with salt and pepper.
- 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.
- 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.
- Transfer the sauce to a plate, then top with the scallops. Garnish with chopped chives and serve with lemon wedges.