Instructables

Twice-Cooked Sous Vide Sea Scallops

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Picture of Twice-Cooked Sous Vide Sea Scallops
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Sea scallops are my favorite meat, but preparing them can be hit or miss. Since they are so delicate, scallops are often overcooked, and while they might remain sweet, this still results in a rubbery dish.  Cooking scallops en sous vide makes getting them perfect much easier. And they are perfect. Be careful if you try these -- you'll never enjoy scallops at a restaurant again.

In this recipe, I was generally inspired by Sous Vide Scallops at Believe the Lie, and Twice Cooked Scallops at Ideas in Food.

Here's the short form of the recipe:
Cook scallops with butter, salt, and pepper at 122 F
Chill the scallops in an ice bath
Sear the outside in very hot oil
 
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Step 1: What is Sous Vide?

Picture of What is Sous Vide?
"Sous vide" is French for "under vacuum" and cooking en sous vide typically refers to vacuum packing ingredients, then cooking them under very strict temperature control. "Precision cooking" might be a more accurate term, but all gastronomical things tend to gravitate toward the French descriptions. When sealed in plastic, the aromatics cannot vaporize so flavors are more intense, and food can be cooked in water baths held at specific temperatures for long periods of time without the water soaking or otherwise changing the texture of the food. Sous vide is a food service technique that has been embraced by the world's best chefs, and with some equipment that is not outrageously expensive, you can duplicate some of their dishes.

My two favorite references for sous vide are Thomas Keller's Under Pressure and A Practical Guide to Sous Vide Cooking by Douglas Baldwin.
jobiswan2 years ago
Combine the juice from the bag with a little dry white wine and then reduce by 50-75% and tope the scallops with the reduction.
jobiswan2 years ago
For the sear, a cast iron pan works great. Heat to 600 F.! 60 secs each side. Scallops should be at 122 F. before searing. If you have stored them, reheat in the water oven with water set to 122 F. Will take 30 mins. I would just do the primary cooking then do the sear last minute at time of service. A great alternate way to sear is a kitchen torch!
jobiswan2 years ago
no need for ice water bath, just take them from water oven to sear. If you are doing these ahead of time, do use the ice water bath to quick chill, use within two days or freeze. All souse vide bagged foods, cooked or raw, should be stored below 36 degrees F.
jobiswan2 years ago
Cook for 45 mins to ensure pasterization, will not change doneness
jobiswan2 years ago
You can get a Sous Vide Supream Demi for $299 and have a real SV water oven
My dad said you are overcooking them...
ewilhelm (author)  Yerboogieman4 years ago
I'd love for your dad to post his own en sous vide scallop recipe.  Does he suggest 121°F rather than 122°F?
He said, "Why the cooking in the crockpot, to cook them, basically all you have to do is sear them and they are done".
Well, yes, he is correct. However, searing leaves the seared sides a bit over-cooked. But I love 'em both ways!
Seriously, you've got to try this out.  I've been sold on sous vide because of the incredible amount of control you have over the heating of the food.

I love a fast sear with an ultra-rare interior, Sea scallops need that Maillard reaction to give a hot, caramelized exterior but by slowly raising the internal temperature, you get those easily digested (read; tasty) proteins and an incredible texture variation to boot.

I gotta tell you, I've made enough sea scallops to get a perfect sear in a pinch, but when I really want to impress someone, this is the way to go.

Give it a shot, it's not a competition.  If you love good food you don't want to miss out.  I mean heck, I love deep fried peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, but I still make the regular kind.
ewilhelm (author)  Yerboogieman4 years ago
Get your dad to try out some sous vide recipes; he'll love them.
I too was under the impression that you seared the outside then gobbled them down.
You can even eat scallops raw and they are delicious, very smooth and almost buttery. Though you do this at your own risk, I almost always have one raw when I make scallops cooked. Wrapped in bacon, quick seared or in any number of pasta dishes. Over cooking any food ruins it in my opinion. Even cooking fish and scallops with an acid such as lemons limes and orange juice with onions and a few oterh herbs and is terrific, add a little cognac to bring it up a notch. Ceviche is one version and Poke in Hawaii is another version.
=SMART=4 years ago
I don't think i have ever had Scallops before !
I must try them, the pictures look delicious :)
What do they taste like ?
There is no way to describe the flavor of scallops, the best you can do is a simile.

They are like being curled up with the one you love in front of a roaring fire with your dog at you feet while reading your favorite book. Except better.
nachobobs4 years ago
We used to serve a dish with sous vide scallops at 75° for 6 mins, in the bag was butter and a tomato tea made from a consomme of tomatoes, onions and basil. Served with a tomato foam under a cooked and dried rice paper shell.
ewilhelm (author)  nachobobs4 years ago
75°C?
°celius yes 
canida4 years ago
These are absolutely amazing
Quick-seared scallops can be quite good, but this technique truly takes scallops to another level.  A sous vide set-up is worth it for these scallops alone.
Myrdydd4 years ago
Huzzah, eWhilhelm!

Llooks liek I will be trying this sometime soon.  I -love- scallops, but rarely have found them at restaurants cooked correctly.

 +5!
heheheha4 years ago
Excellent instructable, and cooking this scallops this way IS delicous....however, a super hot pan can cook them just as well, without all the expense...Get pan almost smoking hot, bit of oil, drop scallops and sear the outside. Flip quickly, take off heat, hit with butter for a few seconds.

However with that said, once you make the intial investment into the equipment, you aren't limited to just scallops (as you mentioned), and the scallops DO turn out beautifully!
Pazzerz4 years ago
Drools....

I could eat a pound of that!  Looks like my vacuum sealer will have another use this weekend...
This is something I will definitely try to make. Looks delicious.