Seared Scallops

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Seared Scallops | Easy Japanese Recipes at

Mother’s Day is just around the corner so today I want to share a delightful Seared Scallop dish that you can cook to celebrate this occasion.  Also, I prepared an international giveaway so don’t forget to check out the details!

Seared Scallops |

Seared Scallops are really easy and quick to prepare and they look beautiful when you present them delicately on a plate.  It can be an appetizer, main dish, or one of your side dishes.  My seared scallop recipe comes very detailed, including instructions to brine the scallops and to make clarified butter for searing.  These extra steps don’t add much labor or time, however, you can omit the “optional” steps.

You can be creative to make your own sauce, or simply serve with a squeeze of lemon juice on top.  Today I prepared the scallops in three way.

Seared Scallops |

My first sauce is the garlic butter soy sauce.  It’s the garlic butter sauce with a Japanese twist by adding soy sauce.  Combining butter and soy sauce is always a popular combination in Japan so I hope you give it a try.

The second sauce is spicy mayo.  Japanese loves seafood with mayo and I made the mayo spicy to add kicks to the flavor.  Spicy mayo is really easy to make – just add Sriracha sauce to mayonnaise and you can find my recipe here.

The third sauce is Unagi sauce.  This thick soy sauce is my children’s favorite because it’s sweet.  I used a bottled unagi sauce this time (as you only need a few dollops), but you can make homemade unagi sauce using my recipe here.

Now that scallops and sauces are covered, my husband Shen will talk about the wine he paired up with these delicious scallops.

Seared Scallops |

Summer is just around the corner and it’s been a pretty warm spring in the San Francisco bay area.  This past week the temperature broke 85 a few times and it was the perfect weather to enjoy white wine.  During the warm months, we enjoy drinking rose and fun white wines in the afternoon while watching the kids play in the backyard.  Tower 15‘s Sauvignon Blanc and Rose are perfect for these relaxing occasions.

The Sauvignon Blanc is Tower 15’s first release and it’s simply fabulous!  The texture is very creamy and easy on the palate.  It’s is a very fruity wine, reminding me of fresh peach juice with a hint of tartness and spice.  We’ve paired this wine with three styles of seared scallop and they worked very well together.  Beside the Sauvignon Blanc, we shared the “Sunset Rose” a few days ago with a group of friends at a Chinese restaurant and everyone enjoyed it.  The crisp chilled Rose filled with summer fruit flavors complemented the salty Chinese food and cleaned the palate.  If you are looking to bring a fun bottle of wine to bring to a party this summer, I would recommend the Rose for a afternoon BBQ and the Sauvignon Blanc for sit down dinner in the backyard.

Here is a fun 2 min clip from Pali Wine Co on how they bottled the wines.

Please note: We received no compensation for this review. We received Tower 15’s 2012 Sauvignon Blanc and Sunset Rose from Jarvis Communications free of charge to use in exchange for an honest review.

Now it’s time for GIVEAWAY!

Sur La Table Gift Card Giveaway

Seared scallops are cooked, and wine is selected.  Now how about a present?

I am giving away three (3) $25 dollar virtual gift cards from my favorite kitchen store, Sur La Table!

Click HERE to read more details and enter to win.  This is an international giveaway, and anyone can enter to win.  For those winners who live outside of the US or prefer same value Amazon gift card instead, I’d be happy to arrange.  Good luck!

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Seared Scallops
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: Serves 2-4
  • 1 lb large sea scallops (I used graded U8* scallops)
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 Tbsp. clarified butter (or regular butter if you like)
  • ¼ cup yuzu flavored tobiko* for garnish
  • Chives or parsley for garnish (I used Japanese herb “kinome” (young leaf of prickly ash).)
For Brining (Optional):
  • ¼ cup salt
  • ½ cup boiling water
  • 2 cups cold water
For Sauce:
  • 1 to 1 ½ Tbsp. salted butter
  • 2 tsp. minced garlic (1 large clove garlic)
  • ¼ cup dry white wine such as Sauvignon Blanc
  • 1 tsp. soy sauce
  1. [Optional] Make clarified butter. Clarified butter does not burn as easily as regular butter so it’s the best choice for searing scallops beautifully. Read my step-by-step instruction here.
  2. [Optional] If you want to brine scallops*, follow the directions below; otherwise, skip to Step 4. For brining scallops, combine the salt with the boiling water in a large bowl, stirring to dissolve the salt. Then add cold water.
  3. [Optional] Add the scallops to the brine and let stand for 10 minutes (no longer, or the scallops become too salty). Drain the scallops.
  4. Rinse under cold water and gently pat dry with the paper towels. Sprinkle the scallops lightly with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  5. Heat the clarified butter in a large stainless steel frying pan* over medium-high heat until it begins to smoke. If you use regular butter, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the scallops in a single layer, leaving enough space between each scallop (If necessary, cook in 2 pans or in 2 batches.).
  6. Cook without moving the scallops*, until the bottoms are nicely browned, about 3 to 3 ½ minutes. Turn each scallop gently and put it in a different part of the pan so the surface is hotter and gives the best sear. Cook the other side for another 3 to 3 ½ minutes.
  7. Transfer the scallops to a wire rack to drain excess oil while you prepare the sauce.
  8. For the pan sauce, heat the butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant. Add the wine, stirring constantly, and cook about 3 minutes, until alcohol is evaporated and the sauce becomes thick.
  9. Lastly add the soy sauce and mix all together. Remove the pan from heat and spoon the pan sauce over the scallops or serve in a separate bowl.
The method for preparing and cooking scallops is from Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc at Home.

Prep/Cook time excludes the time for brining scallops and making clarified butter.

U8 means there are 8 of this size scallop in a pound.

Yuzu flavored tobiko or regular tobiko can be found in Japanese grocery store.

The reason why we brine scallops is for flavor and removing the chemical taste.

You can create more beautiful caramelized exterior using stainless steel pan than non-stick pan.

Let the scallops cook without moving until the bottom browns and releases on their own.

To prevent from oil splatter, you can use this oil splatter guard.
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  1. Kimmi

    Your scallops look absolutely amazing! I’ve been on a learning curve with my stainless steel pan (and so when I’m lazy, I just use non-stick), but the promise of the golden-brown sear makes me want to keep trying. Thanks for all of the tips that you included with this recipe — they’re so very helpful!

    • Hi Kimmi! Thank you so much for the comment! The clarified butter won’t burn like regular butter when it’s cooked on higher heat, so you will get the nice sear! Also, not touching/turning the scallop until it’s brown helps. After the bottom is cooked and brown, you can easily turn (sometimes it sticks a little but not like completely stick to the pan). I too get worried when I use stainless steel pan, but you will get used to letting it cook until it’s ready after several trial (and believe that it’s going to work!). Hope you can get a nice golden brown sear! :)

  2. We adore scallops, in fact, I have a scallop recipe to share soon too. Your three sauces idea is brilliant. Love all of them!
    I can just taste that Sauvignon Blanc with the scallops, very summer-y!

  3. These scallops look so delicious! I was *just* reminiscing last night about some amazing butter-shoyu scallops I had at a restaurant in Okayama, and I was thinking of making a recipe for butter-shoyu clams or something similar… Butter and soy sauce are such a great flavor combination with seafood. (And thanks for the tip to use clarified butter as well!) I wish I lived in the same state as my mom so I could make this for her. :)

  4. donna mikasa

    Your recipe is the closest to the ones that we had at a restaurant that closed down several years ago. I can’t wait to try the different sauces, too! Yum!

  5. Delicious! My husband loves scallops (me too) but I’ve never been able to get them right. They never quite sear! Yours looks perfect…and the sauce! YUM!

  6. Scallops are one of my favorite seafoods and I would love them for my b-day this weekend. I absolutely love the Japanese spin you put on them, something to try. The wine sounds like a great pairing. Enjoy your beautiful weather and have a very Happy Mother’s Day Nami!:)

  7. Though I know the sauce takes minutes to cook, sometimes I just can’t wait for any sauce to be prepared as pan-seared scallops themselves are too irresistible! I just want to eat them instantly 😛

  8. Your scallops, Nami are seared to the golden perfection! Absolutely mouthwatering pictures, and I love the spicy mayo but garlic butter soy sauce sounds like delicious twist to me! Thank you for sharing and have a great day!

  9. Hello Nami
    I know whoever who just came over to visit this post, I am sure they are bound to be mouth watering by just looking at these delicious scallops.

  10. I love scallops, just had some tempura scallops today when I went out for sushi, and every one of the 3 sauces you described sounds delicious.

    Happy Mother’s Day.

  11. Rachel

    I’ve always wanted to make seared scallops but heard they were really difficult to sear. After seeing this recipe though, I’ll definitely give it a try!

    • Hi Rachel! The key is to use clarified butter (so that butter will not burn on high heat) and stainless steel pan. Follow the instructions closely, and you will have a nice sear on the scallops! :) Good luck and enjoy!

  12. Interesting idea to brine scallops! I love to cook scallops and do it often, but I’ve never thought to brine them. In fact my concern has always been to get them dry enough so they’ll sear well! But Thomas Keller is a god — I need to try this. Anyway, love the sauce, too. I’ll bet it paired well with the scallops. Really nice — thanks so much.

  13. Jayne

    Your scallops look so so gourmet and pretty! Really love how you plated them up… and the sear marks. Just heavenly.

  14. Eha

    Beautiful renditions of one of my favourite seafoods! Love the garlic butter soy sauce and the unagi sauce . . . perhaps will be allowed to sneak past the mayonnaisy one as I don’t partake :) ! Lovely photos Namiko-san!!

  15. Seared scallops and red wine – this would be the perfect Mother’s Day gift. Wish I could celebrate the special day with my mom. I know she would enjoy the dish so much. Love your garlic butter soy sauce that go with seared scallop. Absolutely heavenly!

  16. Mi Vida en un Dulce

    Look at the size of the scallops…!!! We have a lot here, but I never saw that big. But, even though we have small ones, I think this is a very simple and delicious way to present it, and looks wonderful in a plate.
    Happy Mother’s Day…!!!

  17. Nami, love the pretty and elegant presentation of your three different versions of seared scallops with different sauces, I think my personal favorite would be the garlic butter soy sauce – it sounds so very delicious! What a great detailed recipe – unfortunately fresh scallops are very hard to find around here and are very pricey but they are so fabulous tasting that it would be worth my while to order some at the fish monger and prepare your wonderful recipe!
    Hope all is well with you and the kids – have a great Wednesday!

  18. Thank you for reminding me that I have scallops in my freezer! And now I have 3 delicious sauce ideas to use with them. I know the unagi sauce would be one of my favorites – oh, who am I kidding, it would be too hard to choose. They all sound good. :) Have a wonderful Mother’s Day Nami! Here’s to many more great weather days too!

  19. Never tried scallops ever…but def want to. Nice dish and pics as always…now how did u manage to take that pic with u washing the scallops – tripod? :-) I’m always curious to know how ppl take their pics with them in it…hehe

  20. Carol | a cup of mascarpone

    Nami, these scallops are absolutely mouth watering! Your photos are stunning…and your cooking skills amaze me!

  21. Candice

    Hi Nami,

    I love scallops! Did you purchase your scallops fresh or from the freezer section? Also, where can I find clarified butter?

    All my pans are non-stick..time for me to go purchase a stainless steel pan. =)

    • Hi Candice! I bought fresh scallops from the fishmonger. You make clarified butter using unsalted butter (link is in the recipe). It’s nice to have one stainless steel pan as you are supposed to use medium to medium high heat only for non-stick pan. :)

  22. I have only had scallops a few times… but when I see yours I wonder why I don’t eat them more often. I love the crust you got on yours… really beautiful. Loved the sauces too. :)

  23. Oh, Nami, these look extraordinary! Of course, Bill doesn’t like scallops and they are one of my absolute favorite seafoods. I will find an excuse to make these just for me.

  24. now why didn’t I think of using clarified butter to sear scallops with? i’m sure with the nutty flavour the scallops will taste amazing!!

  25. Wow, your photos are absolutely stunning and the wine review is so very helpful- thank you! I’d love to be sitting in the backyard with you guys sipping and watching the kids (and my grandkids!) play- sounds like heaven.

  26. This is literrary mush have dish in japanese restaurant when available….
    btw, your scallop is perfectly charred..
    did u discard the oil brom browning the scallop???
    thx to you i know why my scallop is pale crusted, i always use non stick pan instead stainless pan

    • I had to do 2 batches, and actually the clarified butter didn’t seem to be suitable for making the sauce with lots of burnt pieces and it was quite a bit of oil in the pan. Since clarified butter is not salty enough like regular butter, you have to add more salt to make good butter sauce. Therefore I use a new pan for making the sauce from scratch. If I use regular butter to sear scallops, I would continue using the same pan. :) Yes, stainless steel pan and clarified butter is the key!

  27. Your scallops look delicious and perfectly cooked! All of your sauces look perfect for seared scallops, but it’s going to be heard to choose between the garlic soy and the spicy mayo. YUM! Thanks for the wine recommendations. It’s warming up here as well, so we’re switching from red to white. I’ll check it out. Have a very Happy Mother’s Day!

  28. Nami, these scallops are done perfectly…love the different sauces…beautiful pictures as always .
    I love Sur La Table, actually I was there today :)
    Have a great weekend!

  29. Wishing you a very Happy Mothers day a little early Nami-san! I do not know where to start so many great things in this post. Your 3 way scallops are so delicious and those photos are stunning. I really think your photography gets better and better with each post. So what style of scallops was your families favourite? Enjoyed watching the video on how everything is done behind the scenes. It looks like your husband has picked the perfect wine to go with your delicious scallops. You guys are a great team. Wishing you a super mothers Day weekend. Take care, BAM

  30. Nami: This looks incredible! I love seared scallops and this looks like it came from a fancy restaurant! You presented beautifully and I love the flavor profile. Lovely post and Happy Mother’s Day to you!

  31. Hi, Nami! Seriously, you got me at Garlic Butter Soy Sauce! That is my favourite “flavour” sauce for ANYTHING. ANYTHING. Seared scallops, shrimps, bbq salmon, chicken, steak, veggies, even pasta and friend rice! There should be a post just for garlic butter soy sauce! YUM!!!!

  32. Nami, I am a huge scallops fan. I could eat tons of them… Most of all, I am in awe of your photos because for me scallops have always been horrible to photograph!
    The brining is completely new to me! I must test it. And the sauce sounds delicious too.
    PS It was an excellent idea to add replies notifications!

  33. Its been a little while since I have had time to comment on your blog Nami. Such amazing things going on here. I dont know where to start!!
    I’m moving back to the States in a little over a month and I cannot wait to have scallops! I haven’t had any since moving to Israel. These look delicious!

  34. I’m back! (I was just checking this recipe again for ingredients). The use of yuzu flavored tobiko is interesting. I’m going to Japanese grocery store to see they have it. I hope they do.

    For the Giveaway – I bake a lot so rubber spatula is my number one, go to gadget. I love Sur-la-table store. I go there at least once a week.

  35. Oh, I never thought of brining the scallops before – great idea! I don’t cook them too often (they’re not really my favourite thing) but I like them occasionally served in this kind of style – something quite simple. Brining must really help stop them shrinking down too much!

    • Hi Charles! I’m excited to respond to you via this plugin (thank you for your help! now you can see what I did with it!). I did not know that brining can help stop scallops shrinking down. Thanks for the knowledge!!

  36. Dear Nami,

    It’s not easy to cook scallops. I like them with a beautiful golden brown sear on the outside and medium rare inside just like how you have done it. The garlic butter style to me is one of the best way to cook it although I have never added soy sauce though.

  37. Carole

    Carole’s Chatter is collecting scallop dishes today. This is a nice one. I do hope you pop over and link in. This is the link . Cheers

  38. I have never heard of clarified butter before…ahah makes it sound so fancy. And your plating is gorgeous! They really make the scallops stand out!

  39. Devie

    Hi… may i know how to make the first sauce (garlic butter soy sauce)?? I love scallop, but never tried to cook one yet, so i will give it a try..


  40. This one looks so fancy! And the recipe looks easy enough. It’ll be great for small scale dinner party.
    I like the idea to put some caviar on top of the scallop.

  41. Meng

    I wasn’t able to sear them well, probably because my spatula was too soft and could not lift the scallops off cleaning. But I just made my first scallop dish and it was wonderful to be able to have that dish right at home with my family. Can’t thank you enough for the recipe.

    • Hi Meng! I’m happy to hear you enjoyed this recipe and thank you very much for your feedback. I’m not sure if you read the note section, but did you use stainless steel pan? It helps to nicely brown the scallops. :) Scallops release from the pan on their own once it’s cooked, so it’s better not to touch them when they are being cooked. :) Thank you once again for trying this recipe!