Pan Seared Scallops with Sage and Capers

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by Michael on May 26, 2013 · 0 comments

in Appetizers,Main Dishes,Recipes,Seafood

Pan seared scallops with sage and capers over arugula is a great spring dish. It’s what I would be eating if I could have found some dry scallops. But alas, Richmond is an oyster town when it comes to fresh shellfish.

I can find wet packed scallops, but they are full of sodium tripolyphosphate, a preservative. And that sounds tasty.

Wet scallops are packed with water making them weigh more. And cost more. Have you ever cooked scallops and all of a sudden the pan is full of water? Wet packed scallops. The added water and phosphate keep the scallops from browning. Plus they shrink up, dry out and flood the pan with liquid when cooked. You can usually spot them as they are very white. Don’t waste your time or money.

Dry scallops are free of preservatives and added water. They are harvested, shucked then frozen. They caramelize naturally during cooking and amazingly taste like scallops. They have a light vanilla color and are easy to recognize, but it’s alway worth asking your fish monger what you are buying.
I first had this dish at the River Cafe in London more than a decade ago so I can’t take credit for the dish. I am sure that this rendition is no longer true to or as good as the River cafe’s the cafe’s, it’s still pretty good.

By the way, should you find yourself in London needing a great Italian meal, visit the River Cafe.

A well seasoned cast iron skillet is perfect for this dish. Otherwise use a heavy steel pan. Non-stick pans will make it hard to sear the scallops.


12-16 large sea scallops
20 or so fresh sage leaves (must be fresh)
1 Fresh lemon
Capers – 3 oz
Olive oil
12 oz mache, arugula or spring mix lettuce.
Fresh cracked pepper


Rinse the scallops and dry on a towel. The drier the better for the searing step.
Grind pepper on each side of the scallops.

Heat a cast iron or heavy skillet on medium high.
Add 3 tablespoons olive oil and add the sage leaves.
Fry until crisp and remove to a paper towel.

Juice the lemon and toss 3/4 of it with the lettuce.
Add 3 tablespoon olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a generous amount of pepper and toss the greens to mix.

Add the scallops to the pan and let sear for 3 minutes – do not move them around.
Flip over and add the capers to the pan.

Sprinkle the scallops with salt.
Drizzle the rest of the lemon juice over the scallops.

Cook one minute more and remove from pan.
Serve over the dressed greens and add the sage on top of the scallops

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