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Tasting Notes

Michael Mina intensifies the natural sweetness and richness of sea scallops by pulling out their sugars with a nutty, caramelized sear.

Michael’s simple tips promise expertly cooked scallops that are meltingly tender and rich enough alongside assertive heat. A crisp, spicy chorizo crust wraps the creamy scallops with a satisfying crunch while amping up the flavor of the finished dish.

Tips & Techniques

  1. Get your sear on. Flavor development begins when you sear the scallops and the natural sugars caramelize, creating a layer of rich, nutty flavor that accentuates the natural raw sweetness of the scallop. But how do you get a clean sear and avoid cooking scallops that stick to the pan? The secret is in the fat and the heat. Don’t skimp on oil here. Use a generous coating across the bottom of the pan and bring your burner to high heat. To ensure that the pan in hot enough, wait until the oil just starts to smoke before you add the scallops.
  2. Scallops go from raw to rubbery very quickly. Test for doneness by touching them gently in their middles – they should feel firm but still tender. You can also check by inserting a cake tester in the center for a few seconds, pulling it out and touching it to the inside of your wrist – if it feels slightly warm but not hot, the scallops are done. A perfectly cooked scallop is meltingly tender. Once the scallops begin to exude their milky, white proteins, they’re already overcooked, which results in a rubbery texture. With practice, you’ll learn to find the desired firmness by touch and remove them from the heat at just the right moment.


These tools are the ones we find especially helpful when making this dish.

  1. Ovenproof pan. An ovenproof pan is an ideal heat conductor, retaining heat evenly across its surface, and makes the perfect pan for searing delicate scallops.
  2. Cake tester. While it may work to test a cupcake with a toothpick, you’ll need a real stainless steel cake tester if you’re having trouble discerning the doneness of your scallops. The steel tip will take on the heat from the center of the scallop, so you can measure its temperature by touching the tester to your wrist. When it’s warm – but not yet hot – the scallops are good to go.
The list below includes all the equipment you’ll want to make this dish.
Medium ovenproof sauté pan
Metal tongs
Plate with paper towel
Cake tester

  • Grapeseed oil
  • 12 sea scallops, patted dry and adductor muscle removed (always use dry-packed scallops)
  • Kosher salt
  • 12 rounds chorizo crust, chilled
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves, chopped, for garnish

Serves: 4

Total time: 10 minutes

Active time: 5 minutes

  1. Preheat the oven to broil.
  2. Set a large, ovenproof sauté pan over high heat. Add enough grapeseed oil to form a thin layer on the bottom.
  3. When the oil starts to shimmer the pan is ready. It is important that the pan is very hot – this will ensure that you can caramelize the scallops without them sticking or overcooking. Season scallops on both sides with salt. Place them in the pan, and sear without moving until golden brown, about 1 to 2 minutes. Make sure not to overload the pan with scallops.
  4. Flip the scallops with tongs and spatula and sear on the other side for 2 minutes. Peel the chilled chorizo crust from the wax paper and place a round of crust on top of each scallop. Place pan in the oven. Broil until the crust is golden brown and crispy, about 1 to 2 minutes. It is important to check your scallops frequently at this point. The high sugar content of the tomato paste in the crust will cause them to color quickly. Rotate them in the broiler every minute to achieve even coloring.
  5. When the crust has turned golden brown, remove them from the broiler and insert a cake tester into the center of one. Pull it out and touch it to the inside of your wrist – if it feels warm, the scallops are done. If it feels cold still, set your oven to 300°F and place the scallops back inside for 2 to 3 more minutes or until the inside feels warm.
  6. Gently remove scallops from the pan and place on an absorbent towel to remove any excess oil.
  7. Transfer to the plate and season with fresh squeezed lemon juice prior to serving.

Here is a great way to turn this dish into a meal

Chorizo-crusted scallops with orzo & fresh herbs

These chorizo-crusted scallops pair perfectly paired with cooked orzo that has been dressed with butter and chopped fresh herbs.