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Seared Scallops

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  • Seared scallops with garlic butter soy sauce, paired with a summery white wine, is a wonderfully versatile seafood dish that highlights a simple summer BBQ or an elegant dinner party.

    Seared Scallops on a white plate.

    Seared Scallops are easy and quick to prepare and they look beautiful when you present them delicately on a plate. These elegant Pan Seared Scallops with Garlic Butter Soy Sauce can be an appetizer, main dish, or one of your side dishes. Paired with a fun white wine, you have a match made in heaven. Read on below to find suggested rose and white wines to serve with pan seared scallops.

    Seared Scallops on a white plate.

    Three Delicious Japanese Sauces for Seared Scallops

    Get creative making your own seared scallop sauce, or simply serve with a squeeze of lemon juice on top. If you decide to make a sauce, I have three recommendations of Japanese favorites:

    1. Garlic Butter Soy Sauce: It’s a garlic butter sauce with a Japanese twist by adding in soy sauce. Combining butter and soy sauce is always a popular combination in Japan, so I hope you give it a try with these seared scallops.

    2. Spicy Mayo Sauce: Japanese love seafood with mayo! For this sauce, I spiced up the mayo to add some kick. Spicy mayo is very easy to make, just add Sriracha sauce to mayonnaise – find my recipe here.

    3. 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. The sweetness of the sauce adds a nice touch to seared scallops.

    Seared Scallops with different sauces on a plate.

    There are so many options with seared scallops from the cooking method, to the scallop sauce, to the wine served along side this wonderful seafood dish. My seared scallop recipe is very detailed, including instructions to

    brine the scallops and to make clarified butter for searing. But the basic cooking time of seared scallops is only 10 minutes, so I encourage you to take a little extra time to make this scallop dish special. I understand if you are in a hurry though, so feel free to omit the ‘optional’ steps in the recipe if needed.

    Seared Scallops on a white plate and a glass of wine.

    Seared Scallops with 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 is 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 have paired this wine with three styles of seared scallops and they all 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. If you are looking to bring a fun bottle of wine to a party in the summer, I would recommend the Rose for an afternoon BBQ and the Sauvignon Blanc for a sit down dinner in the backyard.

    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.

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    5 from 2 votes
    Seared Scallops |
    Seared Scallops
    Prep Time
    15 mins
    Cook Time
    10 mins
    Total Time
    25 mins
    Seared scallops with garlic butter soy sauce, paired with a summery white wine, is a wonderfully versatile seafood dish that highlights a simple summer BBQ or an elegant dinner party.
    Course: Appetizer, Main Course
    Cuisine: Japanese
    Keyword: butter scallop, hotate
    Servings: 4
    Author: Nami
    • 1 lb sea scallops (I used graded U8 scallops, see Notes)
    • kosher/sea salt (I use Diamond Crystal; Use half for table salt)
    • freshly ground black pepper
    • 3 Tbsp clarified butter (or regular butter if you like)
    • ¼ cup yuzu-flavored tobiko (for garnish, see Notes)
    • Chives (or parsley, I used Japanese herb “kinome” (young leaf of prickly ash), for garnish)
    For Brining (Optional):
    • ¼ cup kosher/sea salt (I use Diamond Crystal; Use half for table salt)
    • ½ cup water (boiling)
    • 2 cups water (cold)
    For Sauce:
    • 1-1 ½ Tbsp salted butter
    • 2 tsp garlic (2 tsp = 1 large clove garlic) (minced)
    • 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.
      clarified butter inside a glass bowl on top of cutting board
    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.
      Seared Scallops 1
    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.
      Seared Scallops 2
    4. Rinse under cold water and gently pat dry with the paper towels. Sprinkle the scallops lightly with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
      Seared Scallops 3
    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.).
      Seared Scallops 4
    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.
      Seared Scallops 5
    7. Transfer the scallops to a wire rack to drain excess oil while you prepare the sauce.
      Seared Scallops 6
    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.
      Seared Scallops 7
    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.
      Seared Scallops 8
    Recipe Notes

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


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

    • 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.


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

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


    The method for preparing and cooking scallops is from Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc at Home.


    Recipe by Namiko Chen of Just One Cookbook. All images and content on this site are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission. If you’d like to share this recipe on your site, please re-write the recipe in your own words and link to this post as the original source. Thank you.

    Just One Cookbook is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to This post may contain affiliate sales links, please see privacy policy for details.

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