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Pan-Seared Scallops with White Wine Reduction


Pan-searing scallops can be intimidating. The main fear, I think, is overcooking. But you have to give it a try, just do it. You will be surprised that it is so easy. And you will love the results. You don’t have to top them with a reduction or anything else. I’ve included the instructions for what I did recently. You can use any reduction, sauce, vinaigrette, etc. that suits you.

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  • 10 sea scallops
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons shallots, minced
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tablespoon butter


Servings 2
Adapted from


Step 1

The first thing to keep in mind when pan-searing scallops is that everything happens very fast so have all ingredients prepared and tools at the ready. The second thing is understand the needs of the scallops.

They need to be dry. Whether you purchased them fresh or thawed them from frozen, pat them dry with paper towel before searing. If you patted them dry then went off and prepared other things before searing, pat them dry again. Right before you put them in the pan, season them with salt and pepper.

They need hot oil. Use an oil with a high enough smoke point (not olive oil). I used vegetable oil. A thin layer covering the entire bottom of the pan will do. Medium-high heat will do the job but be patient and let that oil get hot. Look for the oil to shimmer then right after that come the faintest wisps of smoke. That’s your signal. Gently place the scallops in the pan.

They need their personal space. Even if you have to sear in two batches, keep space between the scallops. Crowding them will result in steaming them.

They need their privacy. Once they are in the pan, leave them alone. Don’t walk away but don’t shake the pan or pick them up every five seconds. Let them sear.

They need to get gone soon. About a minute later you will see the edges of the bottoms begin to brown. Using tongs, lift one a bit to see if the bottom is nice and golden brown and crispy. If so, turn over all of them. If not, set it back down and wait a few more seconds. Once all of them are flipped, give them about a minute on the second side, if that, then get them out of that pan. Set them aside and quickly make the reduction in the same pan.


Once you have removed the scallops from the pan. Reduce the heat to just above low and set the pan off heat. Add the shallots and begin moving them around and removing any good bits form the pan. Please take care because that pan is still hot and things might sputter. Add the wine and continue to stir. Return pan to heat. Add mustard and butter and continue to let the whole thing reduce while you keep stirring to incorporate everything to a lovely smoothness.

Drizzle the reduction over the scallops and serve immediately. See, that was easy. And isn’t it delicious? Now go teach all of your friends.

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