XOXO Prosciutto-Wrapped Scallops
Scallops, particularly bacon-wrapped scallops, make for an elegant and surprisingly easy Valentine's dinner. We take these pan seared scallops up a notch by wrapping them in prosciutto, instead of bacon. We serve them on a bed of corn and roasted pepper risotto, placing red pepper X's between each round mollusk so the serving plate reads "O X O X O," or Hug, Kiss, Hug, Kiss, Hug. What could be more appropriate on Valentine's Day? I must confess I borrowed this fun presentation idea from my friend Ron who once made them for his wife Cindy. Thank you Ron!
The Key to Making Great Scallops - Wet vs. DryThe first thing is to buy the right scallops. There are basically two kinds: wet and dry. Wet scallops have been injected with sodium tripolyphosphate to preserve them and for the purpose of adding weight. Think about that! You buy scallops by the pound that have been intentionally injected to weigh more. When you cook them, the added fluid flows out onto the pan and the resulting scallop will be tough, rubbery, smaller and will have a soapy or chemical taste. Wet scallops will not sear well. Instead they will expel a pool of moisture that prevents a good sear. You can spot wet scallops if they are sitting in milky water. They also tend to be very bright white in color. Dry scallops are darker in color, running beige, pink and even orange and are shipped ice packed with no added chemicals. Dry scallops are sweeter and they sear to a nice golden brown. Most vendors selling dry scallops will proudly label them as such. In my neighborhood I can buy dry scallops from Santa Monica Seafood, Whole Foods or Bear Flag.
Scallop SizeFor this recipe we are looking for as big a scallop as you can find. A "U 10" label means there will be under 10 scallops per pound. This is what you are looking for. U 10 scallops will be 1 1/2" to 2" across.
Bacon-Wrapped vs. Prosciutto-WrappedBacon and scallops are one of those combinations I think of as "God's food." They just go together like they were meant to be. Chocolate and peanut butter, tomato soup and grilled cheese and avocados and toast are a few food pairings I put in this sacred category. I personally like to use prosciutto (which I consider in the bacon family, albeit fancy Italian bacon) instead of regular bacon. Prosciutto is thinner, more delicate and less greasy, but provides quite a flavor punch. Unlike bacon, you can also wrap it around a scallop without having to pin it with a toothpick to make it stick.
Getting a Perfect Sear
- Start by Drying Your ScallopsThe first step is to dry your scallops really well. If you have the time, set them in a paper-lined plate in the fridge overnight to dry them out. Before you put them in the pan give them a thorough pat down with more paper towels.
- Get Your Pan Really HotUse a stainless steel pan, a well seasoned cast-iron pan or a non-stick, but non-stick pans typically don't tolerate the hotter temperatures or create as good of a sear. Add a high smoke-point oil like canola or grapeseed oil, or better yet a little clarified butter or ghee. When the pan is smoking hot (literally you will see the oil begin to smoke) add your scallops and don't touch them, just let them go for one to two minutes. When one side has developed a nice crust, flip and let the other side sear for another minute or so.
- Do Not Crowd"Do not crowd" is my mantra for browning or roasting anything - fish, seafood, chicken, steak or vegetables. If you overcrowd the pan, moisture is emitted as you heat the food and the food will steam in the moisture and not brown. You need enough space between the items for any moisture to quickly evaporate so the searing process can begin.
Serve on a Bed of RisottoI like to serve these scallops on a bed of Corn and Roast Pepper Risotto with a little sauteed spinach. Print
XOXOX Prosciutto-Wrapped Seared Scallops
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 4 minutes
- Total Time: 9 minutes
- Yield: 2 Servings 1x
- Category: Dinner
- Cuisine: New American
- 6 U-10 or larger dry scallops
- 3 strips prosciutto, sliced in half lengthwise
- 1 T grapeseed oil, canola oil or ghee (something with a high smoke point)
- 1 T butter (optional)
- 4 strips of roasted red pepper
- Thoroughly dry the scallops. Wrap the edge of each scallop with a piece of prosciutto. The prosciutto will hold in place fairly well, but if you want you can secure it with a toothpick or a stem of rosemary. Season with a little black pepper.
- Heat a skillet on high, add oil and heat until the oil just begins to smoke. Add the scallops and leave them be for 1 to 2 minutes. A nice crust will form. Flip them over and sear the other side for another minute to 90 seconds. Add a pat of butter to finish if you like, but this is optional. As butter melts swirl it around the pan. Remove scallops and serve immediately.
Most seared scallop recipes have you salt the scallops before searing. I don’t salt them when I wrap them in prosciutto, because the prosciutto is salty. If you don’t wrap them in prosciutto I recommend sprinkling with kosher salt before you sear.