Bay Scallops With Garlic

Scallops with garlic

The Spruce 

  • Total: 14 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins
  • Cook: 4 mins
  • Servings: 4 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
388 Calories
16g Fat
37g Carbs
25g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 388
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 16g 21%
Saturated Fat 3g 13%
Cholesterol 41mg 14%
Sodium 1101mg 48%
Total Carbohydrate 37g 14%
Dietary Fiber 4g 14%
Protein 25g
Calcium 132mg 10%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

There's something about cooking scallops at home that feels luxurious and indulgent. That might be because they seem like the domain of restaurants and because they're not exactly the least expensive piece of seafood or shellfish you can buy. But they cook fast and aren't hard to cook at all. They just need a little TLC; because they cook so quickly, it also means it's very easy to overcook them.

Scallops are typically labeled as either bay scallops or sea scallops. Bay scallops are much smaller, averaging about 100 per pound. Sea scallops are around three times larger, averaging about 30 per pound. Consequently, bay scallops need less time to cook; plus, they tend to be more tender and a bit sweeter.

The scallops take very little preparation. Just toss them with some flour and chop the garlic. Since cooking time is only about 3 minutes, have all of the ingredients and meal items ready when you add the scallops to the pan. Avoid overcooking them, as they can become tough and rubbery when overcooked. 

A combination of garlic and olive oil make the flavors in this dish similar to shrimp scampi and taste great alongside a pot of rice or served atop angel hair pasta. The garnish of fresh chopped parsley adds flavor and color to the dish. Feel free to garnish the scallops with sliced green onion tops or chives if you like. Or sprinkle the scallops with shredded or grated Parmesan cheese.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds bay scallops
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves (minced)
  • Kosher salt (to taste)
  • Freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
  • Garnish: lemon wedges 
  • Garnish: parsley (chopped)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for bay scallops with garlic
    The Spruce 
  2. Rinse the scallops thoroughly with cold water and pat them dry with paper towels.

    Scallops rinsed and in a bowl
    The Spruce
  3. Put the flour in a shallow bowl; roll the scallops in the flour.

    Scallops coated with flour in a bowl
    The Spruce
  4. Heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. When the oil is hot, add the scallops and cook for 90 seconds, stirring frequently.

    Scallops cooking in oil in a skillet
    The Spruce
  5. Add the minced garlic, salt, and pepper and stir to blend. Continue to cook and turning for about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes longer.

    Minced garlic and salt added to pan with scallops
    The Spruce 
  6. Garnish the scallops with chopped parsley and serve with lemon wedges, if desired.

    Scallops cooked with garlic and parsley
    The Spruce
  7. Serve with hot cooked pasta or rice along with sautéed spinach or Swiss chard.

Why Are Scallops So Expensive?

Scallops are a delicacy and expensive to farm, so many of them are harvested in the wild. The demand for them doesn't abate. The further you live from the source (i.e., somewhere landlocked), the more expensive it is to transport them to your local grocery store or fishmonger—and keep them fresh during that process. Unlike other shellfish and seafood, scallops don't always take well to freezing; their tender texture suffers.

Tips

  • Bits of sand can hide in small cracks on the surface of the scallops, so rinse them thoroughly under cold running water. Scallops can release quite a bit of moisture, so pat them dry with paper towels before cooking.
  • Wet-pack scallops are fine, but try to avoid scallops labeled "water added." Dry-pack scallops are usually of higher quality but might be hard to find. The scallops shouldn't look too wet or too dry. (Try to stay away from frozen scallops, unless you are aware of their quality. Sometimes frozen ones can be harder to brown.)
  • This recipe can also be made with larger sea scallops. Slice them into thinner pieces and be sure to remove the small, tough side muscle, if it is present.
  • If you are adhering to a low carb diet, feel free to skip the flour dusting. You can also use a gluten-free flour blend instead of all-purpose flour if you are avoiding gluten.

Variations

  • If you would like to add vegetables to the scallops, mushrooms are a good choice. Sauté about 1 cup of sliced mushrooms for about 2 minutes before you add the scallops to the pan.
  • For a smoky flavor, garnish the scallops with a few tablespoons of cooked crumbled bacon or pancetta.
  • Browned butter is another excellent flavor enhancer. Brown 2 to 3 tablespoons of butter and drizzle over the cooked scallops. Add a little bit of fresh thyme, white white, or garlic.
  • Scallops are also especially good served with spinach, Swiss chard, carrots, or celery.