Have some sea scallops but they’re not dry-packed. The price was so cheap I had to buy them. So, I probably can’t saute/caramelize them. How would you cook them?
Poach them gently in cream until they’re barely done, add some garlic, salt and cayenne, and use it to dress some pasta of your choice. I like this sauce on capellini or thin spaghetti.
I can never find dry-packed scallops. So what I do is wrap the scallops in several layers of paper towel and weigh them down with a plate below and a few plates on top for about 5 minutes. That gets them dry enough to sear them nicely in a very hot cast-iron pan.
Scallop and mushroom pie
Add them to NY style clam chowder.
Make scallop chowder.
I never heard of dry pack. Could someone explain this?
Scallops not marked “dry pack” are usually soaked in a phosphate solution that increases their water weight and helps preserve them They do not sear well at all, have a diluted flavor, and are about half the price or so of dry pack scallops. (Usually around $10/lb vs $20/lb around here.)
I remember a Good Eats where Alton did a scallop mousse with wet ones that sounded pretty good, never tried it myself though, but might be worth a google to check out.
Also, the cheaper brands of shrimp and some other seafood/fish will also contain this phosophate to keep the appearance of the seafood plumper and preserve longer. Here’s the info on sodium tripolyphosphate. It’s listed on the ingredients if you buy frozen. I don’t care as much when it comes to shrimp, but scallops soaked in this stuff are useless to me except for stewy/soupy types of recipes. I’ve heard some people having success frying wet scallops–no matter what I’ve tried, it hasn’t turned out anything resembling the sear and texture of a well prepared dry pack scallop.
Cook’s Illustrated looked at dry vs. wet scallops for their pan-seared scallops recipe. If you click on the recipe link, the actual recipe itself will be blocked unless you’re a subscriber, but the overview describes what they do to get rid of the soapy “wet” taste - soak in a brine with lemon juice.
I’ve done that trick (long time subscriber to CI), but it doesn’t really help with getting a good sear or the texture. At least not when I’ve done it.
Let them sit for several hours to overnight in an air tight container. A plastic bag will do if they don’t come in one of those poly containers. They’re not simply packed wet, but frozen, and will release water firming them up. If you want to sear them drain well and dip the flat ends in flour. Rice flour works well but any kind will do. They’ll never be as good as dry scallops, but releasing moisture will help a lot.
Thanks to all who responded.
I had them for dinner tonight. Even drying them on paper towels didn’t really do the trick. So, no browning, but garlic, lemon juice and olive oil made them edible. Good actually. Some fresh asparagus and good bread helped.
I’ll try some other suggestions next time.
What about the ones I buy at the store? I haven’t ever noticed a distinction on a package.
They are almost certainly wet pack if they don’t advertise “dry pack.” Also, like I said, the price should tip you off. Read the ingredient list.