Step 1: Prepare Scallops
Sea scallops tend to be expensive, so make sure you either have enough for your group or are prepared to preemptively divvy them up and provide enough other food to keep people happy. They taste fantastic when cooked properly, and I could easily eat a pound of these without help. However, we only have a pound of frozen scallops from Trader Joe's, so there's a big salad too.
Thaw the scallops if necessary. Give your scallops a quick cold water rinse, then lay them out on paper towels to dry, turning them over to dry both sides. You can leave them here for a bit if you need to; just don't forget about them.
Step 2: Prepare Seasoning
We usually use flour, but did a parallel run with potato starch today. The results were quite similar, but we slightly preferred the starch-dipped scallops. This preference might disappear in a double-blind experiment, but we can't be bothered when hungry.
Step 3: A Bit of Prep: Juice and Plate
Set the juice aside near the stove, ready for quick access after the scallops are cooked.
Meanwhile, put a couple layers of paper towels over a large plate. You'll be draining the cooked scallops on this shortly.
Step 4: Dredge & Send to Pan
Meanwhile, heat your pan (any flat-bottomed pan, regular or non-stick, will be fine) and give it a layer of canola or another high-heat oil. Make sure the oil is hot enough to sizzle before adding the scallops.
Work quickly, dredging scallops and adding them to the hot oiled pan.
Step 5: Pan-fry
As soon as you begin to see browning on the underside of the scallops, quickly flip them all over. This really should take about a minute on each side, maximum.
By the time you're done flipping all the scallops, it's almost time to remove the first few from the pan.
Step 6: Remove Scallops
Check the pan for adequate oil coverage, then dredge more scallops and repeat the process. Since cooking the scallops takes 2-3 minutes, doing them in batches isn't much of a hardship. It's certainly worth it to make sure the scallops come out nicely.
Cook the rest of the scallops, and remove the pan from heat when done.
Step 7: Make Sauce
Add some sesame oil, the sweetener of your choice (I like agave nectar for its mild flavor and ease in dissolving), and some salt and pepper. You should have a tasty, thick, dark brown syrup.
Options: use lemon or orange juice to deglaze the pan. Add some cayenne pepper or Sriracha (rooster) sauce to give the sauce a spicier kick.
Step 8: Serve
If you're being stylish, arrange a serving of scallops then drizzle them with the lime/sesame sauce. A sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds on top would look nice, but we forgot until after the photoshoot.
For buffets, dot each scallop with sauce and insert a toothpick.
Serve with a fruity salad with orange/sesame vinaigrette. (recipe soon)