Warm Salad of Pan-fried Scallops

This recipe was originally commissioned from food writer Hugo Arnold for The Society's newsletter. It calls for wines with a touch of sweetness, demi-sec Vouvray, a rich gewürztraminer or ripe chenin blanc from the Cape, perhaps. Manzanilla sherry or Champagne would work well too.

'For a celebratory lunch or dinner, scallops offer stunning eating. Caramelised to a delicate sweetness on the outside, their pearly white interiors are rich and silky. Pick a good supplier to get that sweet, salty tang of the sea.' Hugo Arnold

Serves 4


  • 100g pancetta or unsmoked streaky bacon, cut into lardons
  • 3 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
  • 8 large or 16 standard-size scallops
  • 4 large handfuls mixed salad leaves
  • 1 dsp finely chopped shallot
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 dsp Sherry vinegar
  • Dash white wine or sherry
  • 1 lemon, quartered


Pan-fried Scallops

Sauté the pancetta in one tablespoon of olive oil over a moderate heat until just crisp. Remove from the pan and drain on kitchen paper. Pour off any excess oil and set the pan, unwashed, to one side.

If using large scallops, slice each in half to give two disks (four disks per serving). Lightly brush with olive oil and set aside. Toss the salad leaves with the shallots and enough olive oil to coat lightly, and season with salt and pepper. Pile into the middle of four large plates. Scatter the pancetta on top.

Heat the unwashed frying pan until almost, but not quite, smoking-it needs to be really hot. Season the scallops well - don't hold back on the salt-and quickly add to the pan. When you have put the last one in, turn the first one over to see if it is cooked. Work at speed, as scallops are so easy to overcook (they will continue to cook a little once removed from the heat). The surface should be just crispy; a light golden brown. Place the scallops on the salad leaves, deglaze the pan with the sherry vinegar, a dash of white wine or sherry and a tablespoon of water. Allow to bubble for 30 seconds and pour over each dish. Serve with a wedge of lemon.

From the archives - November 1997/updated March 2016

Members' Comments (1)

"A couple of tips when dealing with scallops.
1. If the roe is attached, then remove with a very sharp knife. You can freeze and when quickly sautéed can be mashed and used in a seafood sauce.
2. Examine all scallops for this little piece of gristle where the roe was.
Again with a sharp knife remove this. In fact for all scallops feel for this tiny piece of gristle, remove and discard.
The above recipe is terrific but do NOT overcook."

Soorat Singh Esq (21-Nov-2017)

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