Friday, June 15, 2018

Irish Seared Scallops

I’ve just read that the majority of scallops in this country come from New Bedford, Massachusetts, which is not far from where I live. While I grew up eating scallops, they were the cute little bay scallops—my mother and grandmother insisted they were more tender. As a result, I always expected big sea scallops to be tough and chewy.

I was wrong! Recently our local supermarket has been getting limited shipments of the big ones—only these are very local, never frozen, and soft as butter. And expensive! I was lucky this week because they’d just put the newest shipment out in the display case and they were on sale (at a mere $12.00 a pound! Ouch! But you only live once.). So I brought some home.

Scallops are delicate in flavor, but adopt other flavors happily. So I went hunting for a recipe that would not overwhelm the scallops but would enhance the flavor. (I had to laugh when my favorite fishseller whispered that some people think they smell bad. People, they come from the sea! What do you want them to smell like?)

In case you don’t know, the scallop (that we usually eat) is only the muscle that keeps the double shell closed. If there’s a chunk of orange stuff attached, that’s the roe, which is what, um, makes baby scallops. It’s a delicacy on its own. The point is, when you look at a nice clean scallop, imagine a shell that is much bigger.

This one happens to be an Irish recipe from County Clare, on the west coast of the island. You know—where the Atlantic Ocean is, so I assume there are scallops there too. But all the ingredients are widely available.

Seared Scallops from Clare


2 Tblsp dry white wine
2 Tblsp white wine vinegar
2 Tblsp minced shallots
1 bay leaf
pepper to taste
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 leeks (white part only), sliced
3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter,
   cut into small pieces
4 small tomatoes, diced


In a small saucepan combined the wine, vinegar, shallots, bay leaf and pepper. Cook over medium heat tof 8-10 minutes, or until reduced by half. Add the cream and the leeks and cook for another 3-5 minutes, until the leeks are nearly tender.

Everything chopped

Whisk in the butter, one piece at a time, and stir until smooth. Add the diced tomato and cook for 1 minute.

Set aside and keep warm.


As usual, I made a half-recipe. The eight scallops below make up one-half pound. Yes, I ate them all!

3 Tblsp unsalted butter
1 lb sea scallops (patted dry)
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs*
1 Tblsp grated lemon zest

*to make bread crumbs, place 5-6 slices
of stale artisinal white bread in a food
processor. Add 1 tps each of dried parsley
(note: I don’t usually have dried parsley on
hand, because I think it tastes like nothing
at all. But don’t try to substitute fresh parsley
because that will make the crumbs mushy),
dried basil, dried oregano (or any other dried spices that appeal to you), and sprinkle with
salt and freshly ground pepper. Process for 15-20
seconds or until the mixture is ground into
fine crumbs.


Preheat the broiler. In a large ovenproof skillet melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Add the scallops and cook for 2 minutes on each side or until opaque (do not overcook!).

Sprinkle the scallops (still in the pan) with the breadcrumbs and the lemon zest and place the pan under the broiler about 4 inches from the heat for 2-3 minutes, or until the crumbs are lightly brown

To serve, place the scallops on plates and spoon the warm sauce over them.

And the verdict? The scallops are amazing--tender and delicate. The sauce doesn't overwhelm them (although I added a bit of salt at the end). The tomatoes pair well with them, with a touch of sweetness. I think I'll be making this recipe again.

If you haven’t heard the shouting, my next book, Murder at the Mansion (coming in eleven days!), has been getting some wonderful reviews.

Here’s what Library Journal said: Connolly’s accomplished series launch … incorporates humor, a realistic setting, and well-developed, appealing characters.

And then Kirkus wrote: The prolific Connolly kicks off a new series that skillfully combines history, romance, and mystery.

Wow! somehow I've managed to combine humor, a realistic setting, appealing characters, history, romance and mystery, all in one book. I'm not quite sure how I did that, but I won't argue! That certainly makes me happy since it’s the first book of a new series, and my debut book with St. Martin’s Press.

Find it for preorder at Amazon and Barnes & Noble


  1. Loooks yummy, Sheila! We had scallops last night - so fresh and delicious. I was short on time, so I just used some Old Bay seasoning and sautéed them in a little Tuscan olive oil. With summer vegetables - hit the spot! I think I’ll be a little more ambitious next time and try this version. Looking forward to reading Mansion!

    1. It's hard to go wrong with scallops and seasoning (if used lightly). I thought this recipe was smart because it called for shallots and leeks rather than onions, because the onion flavor would overpower the scallops.

  2. I adore seared scallops, thanks for sharing a fun-looking recipe for them. You know, every time I think seared scallops, I think of a certain English chef on Hell's Kitchen screaming at the poor souls who have not cooked them correctly.

    1. Yes, he yells a lot. I'm thinking there's only one real rule about cooking scallops: don't overcook them!

  3. "Don't overcook them!" Exactly.
    Otherwise they turn into chewy, icky blobs.
    This looks like a great way to take advantage of their deliciousness.

  4. I love scallops and these look wonderful. Fresh from the sea. Mmmm. Hugs. MJ

  5. That looks delicious. I don’t eat scallops very often. They are very rich and sweet to my taste buds so I can’t eat too many.

  6. Pretty cover. I added this book to my Goodreads shelf. I haven't had scallops in a long time. I do love them, though. I worry that I overcook them sometimes. This recipe does look good.

  7. I like scallops, however I don't eat them very often & when I do it's usually in a restaurant.

  8. I adore scallops. For my recent birthday, my husband's "gift dinner" to me was 8 giant scallops similar to your photo, seared in garlic butter! I will definitely try your recipe and your new series. Thanks.
    Ever anonymous Nancy R