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finished recipe in a brown bowl with creamy polenta and brown butter sauce

Brown Butter Seared Scallops (How to Cook Frozen Scallops)

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  • Author: Christina
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 2-3 1x



For Scallops:

4 tablespoons butter

1 pound sea scallops

2 tablespoon neutral oil

Salt and black pepper, to taste

For Charred Corn Polenta:

1 1/2 cups fresh corn, (2-3 cobs)

1/2 cups polenta or grits

1 cup vegetable stock

1 cup milk

Juice of half lemon (plus wedges, for serving)

Fresh basil, for service

Salt and pepper, to taste


  1. To begin, thaw frozen scallops overnight in the refrigerator. Dry scallops well with a paper towel to remove as much excess moisture as possible. Ensure the side muscle is removed from each sea scallop. Sprinkle each side with salt and pepper, then set aside while you prepare the polenta.
  2. Combine stock, milk and a few pinches of salt and pepper to a medium saucepan. Heat over medium until simmering. Add dry grits or polenta, stirring to prevent lumping. Stir occasionally, cooking until the liquid has absorbed and the grits are tender.
  3. While the polenta is cooking, heat a large pan or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add your fresh corn cobs to the pan and turn occasionally until charred. Remove from the skillet and cool until you can handle. Cut the corn away from the cob. Add 1 cup of the charred corn to the polenta and stir to combine. Cover and set aside.
  4. Wipe out the skillet where you charred the corn. Heat it over medium-high heat with neutral oil and 2 tablespoons butter. Place scallops in the hot pan in a single layer. Sear without moving the scallops for 3 minutes, until they achieve a good sear. Reduce heat to medium and turn scallops. Add last 2 tablespoons butter to pan. Saute for the final minute while basting in butter, until scallops are just cooked through. Remove scallops to a side plate and tent with foil. 
  5. Return the pan to the heat and squeeze the juice of half lemon into the skillet. Gently swirl the pan and scrape up any tasty bits at the bottom. Taste the brown butter sauce and adjust seasoning. 
  6. Portion charred corn polenta into shallow bowls. Top with seared scallops and lemon brown butter sauce. Garnish with remaining charred corn kernels and fresh basil. 


Tips for choosing quality scallops:

Look for IQF (Individually Quick Frozen) scallops: IQF scallops are individually frozen, which means they won't stick together, and you can use as many or as few as you need. They are also usually higher quality than scallops that have been frozen in a block.

Check the packaging date: Always check the packaging date on the frozen scallops to ensure that they are fresh. Look for scallops that have been frozen recently and avoid scallops that have been frozen for a long time.

Check for ice crystals: If the packaging of the scallops shows any signs of ice crystals, it means that the scallops may have been thawed and refrozen. This can affect the quality and flavor of the scallops, so it's best to avoid them.

Look for natural scallops: Some frozen scallops are treated with a solution of water and chemicals to help preserve them. Look for scallops that are labeled as "natural" or "dry-packed" to avoid scallops that have been treated with chemicals.

  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 20
  • Category: Easy Recipes
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: American