Pan Seared Scallops with Sweet Corn and Chiles

Be sure to ask for “dry” scallops at your fish market; they release very little liquid and ensure a good sear in the pan, and they are free of preservatives.

This recipe calls for 3 to 4 scallops per person. For hearty eaters, I suggest 4 scallops per person. You can actually ask for the precise number when you purchase them from the fish counter.

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 4 Servings

Ingredients

For the creamy corn:

  • 5 ears corn, shucked
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 poblano chile, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup water, plus more as needed
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley

For the scallops:

  • 12 to 16 dry sea scallops (about 1 1/4 pounds)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • Lime wedges, for serving
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons coarsely chopped cilantro or parsley, for serving

Method

1 Remove the corn kernels: Set an ear of corn on a cutting board, and working from the thick to the narrow end, cut off 2 rows of kernels. Turn and cut off 2 or 3 more rows. Continue in this way until all the kernels are off all the cobs. Transfer to a large bowl.

Best Pan Seared Scallops

2 Scrape the cob to release the creamy milk from the corn: After you have removed the kernels, hold one cob over the rim of the bowl of corn, and use the back of the knife to rub across it, going back and forth, to release the pulpy corn milk into the bowl.

Repeat with all the ears. You should be able to get about 1 tablespoon of corn milk per cob. The starchy liquid of the corn milk adds creaminess to the kernels.

Scallops with Chili Peppers

3 Cook the corn: In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and diced poblano. Cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes, or until the vegetables soften. Add the corn, corn milk, cream, water, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring often, for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the kernels are tender. Remove from heat.

The mixture should look creamy. If it seems dry, stir in more water, 1 tablespoon at a time. Stir in the cilantro or parsley. Remove from the heat and set aside while you cook the scallops.

Scallops with Chili Peppers

4 Prepare the scallops: Rinse the scallops under cold running water. If the side muscle (the small, tough pieces of scallop that attached the scallop to its shell) is present, remove it with a sharp paring knife. Pat the scallops dry with paper towels and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

5 Cook the scallops: In a large skillet (preferably cast-iron) over medium-high heat, heat the oil until very hot. Add the scallops without crowding them, and turn the heat to medium. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until they are golden brown on the bottom. Turn the scallops over and remove the pan from the heat.

Let them rest for a few minutes to cook in the residual heat from the pan. They are done when they feel firm to the touch and have a slight almost frilly-looking separation on the edge of the scallop. Serve them with the browned side up.

Seared Sea Scallop recipe

6 Serve the scallops: If necessary, reheat the corn over medium heat. Divide the corn evenly into shallow bowls. Place 3 to 4 scallops, browned side up, over the corn. Sprinkle the scallops with the lime juice and cilantro or parsley. Serve with lime wedges.