heaven on a half shell…

Milk and cookies, peanut butter and jelly, macaroni and cheese…

Some things were just made for each other. And it’s hard to have one without the other.

A must-have combination that always has a special place in my tummy is shellfish and lemon. The tartness of the lemon brings out the natural sweetness of shrimp, oysters, lobster, or scallops. Throw in some butter and garlic to the mix and you got yourself a little piece of culinary heaven.

Today I stopped by my favorite fishmonger and picked up some scallops. There are two kinds that are commercially available: bay and sea. Bay scallops are about 1/2″ in diameter, while sea scallops are larger at around 1-1/2″. Often used in soups and stews, bay scallops tend to be bland in the taste department.

Sea scallops, on the other hand, are meatier and have a sweet, delicate flavor. I often prepare them in pastas, as appetizers, or as an entrée. Tonight, I pan-seared them and made a sauce by deglazing the pan with white wine. To that I added shallots, garlic, Meyer lemon, butter, and capers.

There are two simple tricks to getting the nice crust on the scallops: using a regular skillet (not a non-stick) and not messing with the scallops until  they’re ready to flip over. Your patience will be rewarded by achieving that perfectly crisp exterior and will help create the caramelized bits that stick to the pan. Called the fond, these highly-concentrated flavored scraps will become the base of your sauce.

I like to serve these on scallop shells that I’ve saved from a few years ago.

Pan-Seared Scallops with Lemon and Capers

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