How to Cook Scallops in Butter

Preparing saute of scallops (Coquilles St. Jacques)

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Scallops are nutritious and delicious, and they're quick and easy to sear or fry in a pan with butter. One cup of cooked scallops has only about 200 calories and 3 g of fat. Their main drawbacks are high cholesterol and sodium content. However, 1 cup of scallops also provides 42 g of protein, and it's a good source of vitamin A, some B vitamins, calcium, potassium, iron, phosphorous, magnesium and zinc. Scallops prepared in butter are versatile and can be eaten on their own or as an ingredient in pasta or other dishes.

Rinse the scallops thoroughly under cold running water. Pat them dry gently but thoroughly with paper towels, as moisture interferes with cooking.

Cut off the tough muscle on the side of each scallop with a sharp, nonserrated knife, unless you've purchased scallops with the muscle already removed.

Melt 2 tbsp. of unsalted butter in a pan over medium-high heat. Use salted butter if it's all you have, but because scallops are naturally high in sodium, this makes for a particularly salty serving. Refrain from salting the scallops further if you use salted butter.

Add 1 tbsp. of minced garlic or shallot into the pan, if you like. Spread it around. Place the scallops in the pan. Space them evenly and don't let them touch one another.

Fry the scallops over medium-high heat until the bottoms begins to brown, which should take about three minutes. Squirt a bit of fresh lemon juice over them, if desired. Add any other seasonings to taste or according to the recipe you're following.

Flip the scallops over carefully with tongs. Toss another tablespoon of butter into the pan and slightly tilt the pan and rotate it to spread the butter around. Fry until the other side of each scallop browns, which should take another three minutes or so.

Remove the scallops from the pan immediately after the brown to prevent overcooking. Lift them with tongs and transfer them to a plate. Cover them with aluminum foil to keep them hot if you're adding them to a dish that's not yet finished.