When it comes to seafood, scallops rank high on my list. However, it’s not always easy to find really good ones where I live in Central Arkansas. Finding dry-packed scallops can be a daunting task but well worth it since they tend to be more flavorful and will sear much better than their wet-packed cousins. If all I can find are the wet-packed variety, I will dry them thoroughly on paper towels and let them air dry for about an hour before cooking.
Scallops are generally eaten cooked, but they do not require much cooking, or they will become tough. You’ll want to be sure you are purchasing diver or sea scallops for this dish. Bay scallops would not work well here.
The key to a good sear on scallops is to leave them alone once they are added to the skillet or grill. While it’s tempting to move them around in the pan, you’ll achieve much better results if you let them get a nice brown before turning them over.
Scallops do not have a strong flavor which is why I like serving them with this Pineapple-Jalapeño Rice. Made with Riceland’s Gold Perfected Rice, this is a dish fit for company or special occasions, but it’s delicious for family dinnertime as well. The Gold Perfected Rice turns out perfectly every time with fluffy, well-separated grains. It tends to be my rice of choice whenever I am serving it as a side. It’s always dependable and plates beautifully.
If you’re not a scallop fan or just can’t locate them, try this rice with grilled shrimp or salmon. I also like to serve it with jerk chicken since the spices of both complement each other well. It will be equally delicious.
Pan Seared Sea Scallops over Pineapple - Jalapeño Rice
- 1 1/2 cups diced fine fresh pineapple
- 1 Tablespoons crushed pink peppercorns
- 2 limes, juiced, zest reserved
- 1/3 cup minced red onion
- 1/2 teaspoon minced jalapeño
- 1/2 cup minced mint
- Kosher salt
- 1 cup Riceland Gold Perfected Rice
- 8 ounces crushed pineapple, including juice
- 6 ounces unsweetened pineapple juice
- 1/4 cup water
- 1-2 Tablespoons honey
- Zest of 1 lime, lime juice reserved
- 1/3 cup minced cilantro
- Toasted almonds as garnish
- 12 large dry-packed diver (sea) scallops
- White pepper
- Sea salt
- 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
- Olive oil
- 3 slices bacon, fried crisp, crumbled, drippings reserved
Optional: Fresh mint sprigs as garnish
- In a medium glass bowl, combine diced pineapple, crushed peppercorns, juice of 2 limes, minced red onion, minced jalapeño, minced mint and salt to taste.
- Cover and allow to marinate in the refrigerator for several hours until serving.
- Salsa may be prepared a day ahead but do not add minced mint until the day of serving.
- In a medium saucepan, combine Riceland Gold Perfected Rice, crushed pineapple, pineapple juice, water, honey, lime zest and a pinch of kosher salt.
- Bring rice to a boil, stir, reduce heat and cook over low heat until tender, following package directions.
- When rice is done, stir with a fork, squeeze reserved lime juice over all and cover with an absorbent kitchen towel.
- Replace lid and allow to sit at room temperature while preparing scallops.
- Place a serving of rice on each plate and sprinkle with toasted sliced almonds.
- In a large cast iron skillet, cook bacon until very crisp.
- Remove bacon to paper towels; crumble bacon and set aside.
- Drain skillet of bacon grease, reserving grease in a heat proof container. Lightly wipe skillet with a paper towel.
- Dry scallops on paper towels making sure to remove as much moisture as possible.*
- Season all sides of the scallops with salt and white pepper. Drizzle both sides with olive oil.
- Heat the skillet over a medium-high heat until quite hot. Add scallops to skillet and DO NOT MOVE for at least 30 seconds so the scallops will get a nice sear. Repeat with other side. You want a nice medium-rare with the scallops. Do not overcook as overcooked scallops are not very good at all.
- Remove skillet from heat and add butter. Remove scallops from skillet and arrange 3 on each plate with a serving of pineapple rice.
- Top with some of the pineapple salsa and bacon crumbles. Add a sprig of mint as garnish, if desired.
*Note (do several minutes ahead of time): Scallops are sometimes sold packed or infused with liquid. If these are the only ones available to you, mix 2-3 cups of very cold water with 1/4 cup sea salt and soak scallops for 15 minutes. Remove from liquid and dry them thoroughly on paper towels, slightly pressing down but not mashing. Allow the scallops to dry thoroughly on paper towels.
You may also grill the scallops if you prefer, but it must be a very hot grill to get the desired sear.
This dish is also quite good with grilled or roasted shrimp.
Post and recipe by Debbie Arnold of DiningWithDebbie.net