Easy & Tasty Smoked Sea Scallops Recipe

Easy & Tasty Smoked Sea Scallops Recipe

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Easy & Tasty Smoked Sea Scallops Recipe
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Scallops are bivalve mollusks with one large adductor muscle that opens and closes the shell. This muscle is what is enjoyed as a culinary delicacy. Most harvested scallops are sold as the muscle removed from the shell. The stomach sac, intestinal vein, and roe have already been removed.

Scallops are considered very clean shellfish. The adductor muscle is not used to filter toxins and debris from the sea water, unlike other shellfish such as mussels and clams.

The shells of scallops never close completely. For this reason, scallops can perish quickly once removed from their habitats. It is best to eat them as soon as possible after harvesting. The muscle is tender and sweet when eaten fresh. Scallops can be eaten raw, sautéed, grilled, baked, added to fish soups and chowders, and even smoked in a Masterbuilt Smoker. Scallops do not take long to cook. If overcooked they can become dry and chewy.

Tips for Purchasing Sea Scallops

Shopping for scallops can be confusing. Sometimes they look dry and slightly discolored, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes they are wet or immersed in a milky bath and are shiny white. And, sometimes they are perfect disks that aren’t even scallops at all. The latter are made from puréed and molded or stamped whitefish. In a perfect world, these would be correctly labeled as “imitation” scallops.

Ideally, you want to buy fresh, not previously frozen, scallops with clearly labeled harvested dates and best buy dates. If you do have to purchase frozen scallops, make sure they are indicated as IQF. This stands for Individually Quick Frozen that occurs on the boat as soon as the scallops come out of the water.

It is best to purchase scallops that are sourced locally from open waters. Try to steer clear of scallops from foreign countries or that are farm raised. Diver scallops is a term for scallops that are harvested by fisherman who dive into the cold coastal waters and pick them up by hand. These are the most delicious and the most expensive. When it comes to scallops, the high price of a properly sourced product is well worth the resulting texture and flavor.

Look for dry-packed and untreated scallops with less than 80% moisture content. Avoid scallops that appear wet. These are often processed in a preservative solution of sodium tripolyphosphate. While these have a longer shelf life, they also hold approximately 25% additional moisture and will never achieve a nice brown outer layer when cooked.

Appearance and smell matter. Natural, dry scallops are an off-white or cream color. However, they can even carry hues of grey, orange, or pink. It really depends on their habitats and what they are consuming. Look for scallop meat that is firm and translucent. They should smell fresh and faintly of the sea. They should never smell fishy or pungent. These are likely old or have not been stored properly during transit or in the market.

Scallops are sorted by size and are sold by count-per-pound. Sea scallops are available in 10 count increments. The labeling will be 10-20 count per pound and up to 40-50 count per pound. The smaller the count, the larger the scallops.

Cooking Tips for Sea Scallops

If you are unsure of where your scallops came from, or they are frozen, give them a quick rinse under cold running water. Pat them dry with paper towels. You don’t want any additional moisture in the scallops before cooking. If they are fresh off the boat, just pat them dry and proceed to the recipes.

Scallop meat is delicate, so you really don’t want to marinate them for more than a few minutes. A marinade, especially one with acid, will pre-cook the scallops. If that happens, they are best served as ceviche (assuming they were very fresh).

Scallops have very little fat content. They can benefit from being cooked in some form of fat. You can use extra virgin olive oil, butter, ghee, coconut oil, or bacon fat. The first recipe calls for olive oil. The second uses bacon.

Pair cooked scallops with a lightly dressed salad, a mild fruit and herb salsa, or simply seasoned rice. This protein is just too good to upstage with intensely flavored sides. Allow the scallops to shine. A great wine pairing is Sauvignon Blanc or an oaked Chardonnay.

Easy Smoked Sea Scallops

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds good quality sea scallops (10-20 count per pound)
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 2 TBS extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 TBS freshly cracked pepper
  • 1 tsp coarse sea salt
  • Spring salad greens lightly dressed with a vinaigrette for serving

Total time: 40 minPrep time: 5 min – Cook time: 35 min – Serves: 6 people

Directions:

1. Give the scallops a quick rinse under cold running. Pat them dry with paper towels. In a large bowl, stir together the lemon juice, EVOO, garlic, pepper, and salt. Add the dry scallops and toss carefully to coat. Set the scallops aside while you prepare your smoker.

2. Remove one or two racks from your smoker. Add your desired wood chips to the tray and fill the water bowl 1/2 way. Preheat the smoker to 200°F to 220°F with the door closed and the top vent open.

3. Place the seasoned scallops on the grates of the racks. Position them so that they are not touching one another. Put the racks in the hot smoker and cook the scallops for 30 to 40 minutes. They should still be slightly translucent and a little firmer to the touch than when raw. The idea is to just cook the scallops so that they are not raw and are lightly infused with smoke flavor. You don’t want to overcook them. You can check them with a digital thermometer. Approximately 125°F is the temperature you are looking for.

4. Place your lightly dressed salad greens on a large platter. Top the salad with the scallops and serve with toasted baguette slices.

Smoked Sea Scallops Wrapped in Bacon

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds sea scallops (10-20 count per pound)
  • 1 large basil leaf per scallop
  • 1 lb of thinly sliced bacon, cut in half
  • 1 TBS freshly cracked pepper

Total time: 1 hourPrep time: 15 min – Cook time: 45 min – Serves: 6 people

Directions:

1. Give the scallops a quick rinse under cold running water. Pat them dry with paper towels. Set the scallops aside while you prepare your smoker.

2. Remove one or two racks from your smoker. Add your desired wood chips to the tray and fill the water bowl 1/2 way. Preheat the smoker to 200°F to 220°F with the door closed and the top vent open.

3. While the smoker is preheating, season the scallops with pepper and wrap each scallop with a basil leaf. Then, wrap a small slice of bacon around each scallop. Pierce each wrapped scallop with a toothpick to hold everything in place. Place the wrapped scallops on the grates of the racks. Position them so that they are not touching one another. Put the racks in the hot smoker and cook the scallops for approximately 45 minutes. They should be slightly translucent and a little firmer to the touch than when raw. And, the bacon should be cooked through.

4. Serve the scallops over herbed basmati rice or polenta with a side of greens.



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