Panko Baked Sea Scallops

This is a recipe I like to break out for dinner parties. It never fails to impress, not just because it’s delicious, but also because it has a very sophisticated, restaurant-style presentation. People see it and think I must be a whiz in the kitchen. The truth is, this recipe is fairly quick to throw together and, as long as I keep a close eye on the scallops during their short cooking time in the oven, it always feels fairly easy. Essentially you just combine some ingredients, throw them in the oven, and make sure they don’t over cook.

I like to get good sized sea scallops for this dish. It’s not designed for the smaller scallops that are often marketed as “bay” scallops. You could certainly alter this recipe for little bay scallops, but you would need to adjust quantities and cooking times to make them work.

Raw uncooked scallops.

I use fresh scallops for this dish. If you’ve never bought fresh scallops before, try talking to your fishmonger, or the person behind the seafood counter at your supermarket for tips and advice. I don’t recommend you use diver scallops for this dish. They’re more expensive and they’re treated a little more carefully at harvest, which means their rich flavor and texture are better suited to a quick pan-fry and less over-powering sauce. Sea scallops are better suited to this sort of “smothered” recipe.

Generally I use my scallops the day I buy them, although any reputable store or fishmonger will sell you scallops that will keep until at least the next day. I like to rinse them and then pat them dry with a paper towel, or lint-free dish towel. This allows the butter mixture coat them a bit better, in my experience.

One of the great things about this recipe is the fabulous dripping sauce that you get in the pan. The cooking time is short, however, so it’s important that you dice your shallots and mince your garlic very finely so they can soften quickly in the oven. A large dice means the shallots may not cook to your satisfaction.

Panko Baked Sea Scallops

4 from 2 votes

Ingredients

  • 16 sea scallops

  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs

  • 5 tablespoons butter

  • 5 cloves garlic, fine mince

  • 2 shallots, fine dice

  • 1/4 cup olive oil

  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley

  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

  • 1 lemon, cut in wedges

  • salt & pepper to taste

  • 1 tablespoon (optional) white wine

Directions

  • Rinse scallops, drain and pat dry.
  • Preheat oven to 425° F (220° C).
  • Melt butter in small saucepan or in microwave on low heat.
  • Mix melted butter, garlic, shallots, and (optional) white wine in a bowl. Add nutmeg, salt & pepper. Stir gently to combine. Place scallops in butter mixture and toss to coat.
  • Arrange scallops in single layer on baking dish, pour butter mixture over scallops and allow shallots and garlic to distribute evenly over bottom of dish.
  • Combine bread crumbs, olive oil, and salt & pepper to taste in a bowl. Sprinkle over scallops.
  • Bake until panko is golden brown and scallops are done, usually 12 to 15 minutes depending on size/thickness of scallops. Remove from oven and sprinkle with fresh parsley. Serve with lemon wedges for garnish.

Notes

  • If omitting optional white wine, consider squeezing 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice directly into pan drippings after removing from oven, stirring briefly to combine into sauce before serving.
  • Larger scallops, often marketed as sea scallops, are recommended for this dish. Adjust cooking times and quantities if using smaller scallops which are often labeled as bay scallops
  • Onions can be substituted for scallops in this dish, but be sure to dice very, very small to ensure they cook in the allotted time.
  • Tip: try grating garlic using a microplane to save time on mincing.

This dish can be served with a variety of side dishes. Steamed or sauteed vegetables are a good choice, as is a simple salad with a lemony vinaigrette. It pairs well with rice pilaf or mashed potatoes. And another option is to serve it over pasta, like a linguine, allowing the pan sauce to serve as a pasta sauce — I suggest garnishing the pasta with a bit of grated Italian hard cheese like Parmesan or Pecorino.

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