Last night we made seared scallops.

Frozen scallops have been soaked in a liquid solution that keeps them looking white. So you’ll need to defrost and drain them thoroughly, then pat them dry with paper towels before seasoning them.

If you’re lucky, your seafood purveyor carries “dry-packed” scallops, which haven’t been treated with this liquid. If you can get these, you can just season them with kosher salt and they’ll be ready to cook. Note that scallops have a muscle (sometimes called a “foot”) on the side. It’s a tough little tab of meat that you should pull off before cooking the scallop because it can be kind of chewy.

Heat a nonstick sauté pan over a high heat, and add a tablespoon of vegetable oil. The oil needs to be very hot before you add the scallops — you should actually see just the tiniest bit of smoke.

Place the scallops flat-side down in the hot pan. Don’t overcrowd the pan, or you’ll lower the pan temperature, causing the scallops to be steamed rather than seared.

Once you’ve placed the scallops in the pan, don’t touch them! If you give in to the temptation to move the scallops around the pan, all you’ll be doing is preventing them from forming the nice brown crust that you want.

Because of variation in scallop thickness, pan temperatures and so on, it’s not easy to pinpoint an exact cooking time. But after a couple of minutes, it’s OK to peek underneath. If you see a nice, caramel-colored crust on the underside, they’re ready to flip.

One of the easiest things in the world to do is to overcook scallops, so be very careful here. The scallops should be removed from the pan and served while their centers are still slightly translucent (you can check this by viewing them from the side), because they’ll continue to cook after you take them off the heat.

(by Danilo Alfaro)