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Seared Scallops with Orange and Vermouth

Yield 4
These seared scallops cook quickly and the orange zest gives them a flavorful kick.


  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 2 pounds sea scallops
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 scallions including green tops, chopped
  • 1/2 cup dry vermouth
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest

How to Make It

  1. In a large nonstick frying pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over moderately high heat until very hot. Season the scallops with the salt and pepper. Add half the scallops to the pan and cook until browned, about 1 minute. Turn and cook until browned on the second side and just done, about 2 minutes longer. Remove from the pan. Add the remaining tablespoon oil to the pan and repeat with the remaining scallops. Wipe out the pan.

  2. In the same pan, melt the butter over moderate heat. Add the scallions and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the vermouth and orange zest. Cook until the sauce thickens slightly, about 2 minutes. Add the scallops and warm until just heated through, about 1 minute.

  3. Fish Alternatives: Instead of large sea scallops, you can use bay scallops. Sauté them for just a minute and a half. They cook so quickly there's not time for a brown crust to form, but the taste will still be delicious.

  4. Variations: Seared Scallops with Lemon and Vermouth: Use 1 teaspoon of grated lemon zest in place of the orange zest.

  5. Seared Scallops with Orange and White Wine: Use 1/2 cup of dry white wine in place of the vermouth.

  6. Wine Recommendation: A light, acidic white wine is a good partner for the citrus here. Outstanding choices would be a better quality Soave or a sauvignon blanc from the northern Alto Adige region of Italy.

Cook's Notes

Be sure to dry the scallops thoroughly before cooking so they'll brown nicely. A quick pan sauce of vermouth, butter, and orange zest adds a delectable flavor.

Quick From Scratch Fish & Shellfish