overhead shot of a white plate topped with five seared scallops in a butter sauce

Scallops in Miso Garlic Butter

Juicy and tender seared scallops served with fresh homemade miso garlic butter. This recipe is very easy. Simply heat a pan, melt the butter, sear the scallops, and prepare the sauce.

overhead shot of a white plate topped with five seared scallops in a butter sauce

Tips

What are scallops?

Scallops are a type of shellfish that are prized for their sweet, delicate flavor and tender texture. They are native to the coastal waters of many countries, including the United States, Canada, China, and Japan. Scallops are a good source of protein, vitamins, and minerals, and are also low in fat and calories.

a pile of diver scallops, aka the white adductor muscle

How do I choose scallops?

To ensure the best quality and food safety, it is important to purchase seafood from reputable companies or fishmongers. It is recommended to consume the seafood the same day it is purchased.

There are two main types of scallops: bay scallops and sea scallops. Bay scallops are small and have a sweet, delicate flavor, while sea scallops (diver) are larger and have a more robust flavor. Both types of scallops can be eaten raw or cooked, and are often used in a variety of dishes, from soups and stews to pastas and stir-fries.

Another category is wet scallops or dry scallops. Wet (packed) scallops have been treated with water and chemicals to increase their weight (in other words, you’re paying more for excess water) and shelf-life. Wet scallops do not sear as well as dry.

When purchasing sea scallops you will notice two indicators “dry” and “U-#”. Dry scallops are fresh and untreated with chemicals. U-# represents the number of scallops required to make one pound ex. U-8, U-10, U-12, U-10/20, U-20/30, U-30/40. A single U-8 will weigh more than a U-20 for example.

Scallops are classified as male or female based on their reproductive anatomy. The white adductor muscle, which is the edible part of the scallop, tends to be slightly darker and sweeter in female scallops. Male scallops have a whiter appearance in their adductor muscle.

two female scallops on the bottom right

How can scallops be prepared?

Dry sea scallops are sushi grade which is perfect for eating raw or cooked. These shellfish are filter feeders so particles may be lodged in their meat. To avoid eating any remaining sand or shell fragments, they should be thoroughly rinsed with water and gently dried with a paper towel. Some common ways of cooking them are:

  • Grilling: Grill over medium-high heat for about 2-3 minutes on each side, or until they are cooked through.
  • Searing: To sear, heat a little oil or butter in a pan over medium-high heat until it is hot. Add the scallops to the pan and cook for about 1-2 minutes on each side, or until they are lightly browned. The cross-section should look pink and opaque.
  • Baking: Sear the scallops. Place them into a half shell and add tablespoon of compound butter. Broil for one minute maximum to prevent burning.
  • Poaching: Poached in a flavorful liquid, such as broth or white wine, until they are cooked through.
  • Steaming: Steam over a pot of simmering water until they are cooked through.

How do I prepare scallops for cooking?

Mollusks are filter feeders so particles such as sand or shell fragments may be lodged in their meat. They should be thoroughly rinsed with water and gently dried with a paper towel. Place them on a paper towel and sprinkle both sides with salt. Let them sit while you heat a pan on the stove. The salt helps to purge excess water from the scallops, which promotes even browning.

What type of fat do I require for pan searing?

When it comes to cooking with oil the key is to use a fat that has a high smoke point. This means they can withstand high temperatures without smoking or burning, which is essential for creating a flavorful crust. Personal preference and availability may vary, but some of the best options include grapeseed oil, canola oil, peanut oil, avocado oil, clarified butter, or ghee. Considering that we are only searing here for under 2 minutes, regular butter is perfectly fine. In addition, some oils work better with certain types of cookware than others. For example, I have found that avocado oil tends to leave a stubborn residue on my ceramic pans.

  • Grapeseed oil: smoke point of 420°F (215°C)
  • Canola oil: smoke point of 400°F (205°C)
  • Peanut oil: smoke point of 400°F (205°C)
  • Avocado oil: smoke point of 520°F (270°C)
  • Clarified butter, or Ghee: smoke point of 485°F (252°C)

How do I pan sear scallops perfectly?

To achieve a uniform sear, use the middle of the pan, which will be hotter than its edges. It may be necessary to sear the scallops in two to three batches, leaving about an inch of space between them. To get a perfect dark brown sear, resist the urge to move the scallops around in the pan until they are ready to be flipped, about 2-3 minutes per side. As a final flourish, sprinkle black pepper on the scallops just before serving, as it burns quickly when heated.

What type of pan do I need to cook scallops?

For the best results, I recommend using a non-stick ceramic pan or a well-seasoned cast iron skillet. These types of pans have excellent heat retention and distribute heat evenly, which helps to ensure that the scallops are cooked perfectly.

What is miso?

Miso is an essential condiment in Japanese cuisine that is made by fermenting soybeans, barley, or other grains with salt and a fungus called koji. After a fermentation period of 18 months, these ingredients transform into a paste that has a distinct, savory, nutty, and umami-rich flavor. Miso is considered just as important as soy sauce in Japanese cuisine and used as a seasoning in various dishes

What are the different types of miso?

Miso comes in a range of flavors that can vary from subtle to strong. The type of miso that many people are familiar with is red miso, which is often used in miso soup. Red miso has a distinct, strong and bold taste that makes it the richest in flavor among all types of miso. On the other hand, shiro miso, also known as white miso, has a mild and sweet taste and it considered the most subtle type. I personally prefer using shiro for both sweet and savory dishes due to its versatility.

How do I cook with miso?

Miso should be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator to preserve its color and flavor. Lighter colored and flavored varieties should be handled with extra care and always stored in the refrigerator. When using miso, it should be added at the final step of cooking to avoid damage to its delicate aromatics. To make it easier to dissolve in butter, try mixing it with a small amount of mirin or sake before adding it to soups, broths, or sauces. Make sure to strain the mixture before adding it to hot butter.

45 degree shot of a white plate topped with five seared scallops in a butter sauce
45 degree shot of a white plate topped with five seared scallops in a butter sauce with one sliced in half exposing the pink cross section
overhead shot of a white plate topped with five seared scallops in a butter sauce

Miso Garlic Butter Scallops

Seared scallops served with fresh homemade miso garlic butter. Scallops are as simple as it gets. Simply heat the pan, melt the butter, sear the scallops, make the sauce, and serve.
Prep Time 2 mins
Cook Time 8 mins
Total Time 10 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Asian
Servings 2 Servings

Ingredients
  

  • 1 Lb Large "Dry" U8, U10, or U12 sea scallops
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp white or yellow miso
  • 2 large cloves garlic grated
  • 1/2 lemon juiced
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup chives julienned (optional)

Instructions
 

  • Prep | Rinse the scallops under cold running water and pat them dry with paper towels.
    Remove any remaining white muscle tissue which will be too tough to eat.
    Sprinkle evenly with salt.
  • Cook | Heat 2 tablespoons of butter or oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Pat the scallops dry with a paper towel.
    Once the butter has melted, place the scallops into the center of the pan one inch apart and cook for 1-2 mins on each side or until deep brown. Plate the scallops.
  • Garlic Butter | In a clean pan oven medium heat add the remaining butter. Once melted, add in the garlic and saute, 1 minute. Transfer the roasted garlic butter into a bowl then add in the miso and lemon juice. Mix well until combined and strain.
  • Assemble | Spoon the miso butter over the seared scallops and serve hot.
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