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Sea Scallops

With Garlic Mayonnaise


Sometimes you want to make a very special meal, whether it is for a friend, a boss or just for someone you want to treat to a delicious meal. A few weeks ago I wanted to do so for my Mom who is an ardent lover of seafood. I decided to splurge on sea scallops.

Scallops come in two different sizes. Bay scallops, generally found near Nantucket Island, are smaller and have a sweet delicate flavor. Sea scallops are bigger and the best ones are harvested near the old whaling town of New Bedford MA. Guido's in Great Barrington had New Bedford sea scallops available so I decided to pick some up. Considering their meaty size, three or four are enough for a main course.

Aside from the difference in size between bay and sea scallops, they come either wet-packed or dry-packed. I always prefer dry-packed no matter the size as wet-packed scallops have been bathed in a brine of trisodium phosphate to pump them up and extend shelf-life. Although they are ok to eat, there is no way I could use them for my recipe as wet-packed scallops will not brown properly. When they hit the pan they release brine creating a salty solution in which they are unable to take a nice sear.

Because scallops have such a fresh, delicate flavor, a simple sear in butter or ghee is all they need to create a delicious meal. To make the meal more festive, I topped each scallop with a small dab of garlic mayonnaise, similar to aioli sauce but much easier to make.


In a small bowl combine:

½ cup Hellman’s mayonnaise
the zest of half a lemon
1 tablespoon of capers, roughly chopped
½ clove garlic, lightly chopped
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon red peppercorns, crushed

For each person take 4 dry-packed sea scallops and pat them dry with paper towels. In a large frying pan - preferably cast iron - melt one tablespoon of ghee. As an alternative you can use 1½ tablespoons of butter combined with 1½ tablespoons of olive oil.

Over medium heat sear the scallops for 1½ minutes on each side until lightly browned.

Serve with garlic mayonnaise on the side.