Seared Spanish Sea Scallops With Saffron

Seared Spanish Sea Scallops With Saffron on plates

The Spruce / Cara Cormack

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 10 mins
Total: 25 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
226 Calories
9g Fat
16g Carbs
19g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 226
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 9g 11%
Saturated Fat 1g 7%
Cholesterol 38mg 13%
Sodium 926mg 40%
Total Carbohydrate 16g 6%
Dietary Fiber 2g 7%
Total Sugars 6g
Protein 19g
Vitamin C 26mg 130%
Calcium 43mg 3%
Iron 1mg 7%
Potassium 500mg 11%
*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.)

This is a wonderful sea scallop recipe from Galicia, in northern Spain. Combining scallops with cured meat is a widespread tradition everywhere―bacon is a common accompaniment―but here we use Spanish Serrano ham. If Serrano ham isn’t readily available, use any high-quality dry-cure ham, such as prosciutto. The scallops are seared hard on one side, then simmered with sweet onions, saffron, a little ham, dry sherry and finely chopped parsley. It's a great dish served simply with crusty bread and a green salad. Count on 5 scallops per person for the main course; this recipe serves 4 that way. You can also drop the scallops to three per person and serve this as an appetizer.


  • 20 sea scallops

  • Kosher salt, to taste

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 medium sweet onion, chopped finely

  • 4 tablespoons chopped Serrano ham, cut into pieces the same size as the onion

  • 1 pinch saffron

  • 4 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

  • 1/3 cup dry sherry, or white wine

  • 1 lemon, juiced

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Seared Spanish Sea Scallops With Saffron ingredients in bowls

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  2. Pat the scallops dry and salt each side with the kosher salt. Set aside for 10 minutes.

    Scallops on a paper towel lined plate and salt in a bowl

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  3. Add the olive oil to a large frying pan and heat over high heat until it's near the smoking point. Lower the heat to medium-high.

    Oil in a cast iron skillet

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  4. Pat the scallops dry one more time and lay them down in the hot oil to sear. Do not move them for at least 2 minutes.

    scallops cooking in a cast iron skillet

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  5. Shake the pan a bit to see if they release themselves. Once they do, lift out and put on a plate, the seared side facing up.

    Seared scallops on a platter

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  6. Once the scallops are all seared on one side, add the onions and ham and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring often to pick up any stuck-on bits from the pan.

    Onions and ham cooking in a cast iron skillet, while mixed with a wooden spoon

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  7. Crumble the saffron over the pan, then add the parsley and sherry and stir well to combine.

    Parsley, saffron, and sherry added to the onions and ham in the cast iron skillet

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  8. Return the scallops to the pan, seared-side up. Make sure the scallops are resting on the pan, not on the onions.

    Scallops cooking in a cast iron skillet with the onions and ham mixture

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  9. Let this boil down vigorously until the sherry is almost gone, then turn off the heat and remove the scallops to the plate as you did before.

    Onions and ham sauce cooking in a cast iron skillet while mixed with a wooden spoon

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  10. To assemble the dish, spoon out some of the onion-ham mixtures on a plate, drizzle a little lemon juice on it and then top with the scallops.

    Seared Spanish Sea Scallops With Saffron on a plate with a fork and knife

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack