Pan-Seared Scallops with Chorizo: Quick, Easy, Elegant

This 10-minute pan-seared scallops recipe makes a good thing even better with the addition of a little bit of Spanish chorizo. The flavor and texture contrasts with the seared scallops are just perfect.

We recommend serving it all over a bed of basmati rice pilaf, another best-in-class version of a simple, killer recipe. 

Pan-Seared Scallops with Chorizo- 780 | Umami Girl-2

Why we love this recipe

Scallops, man. They’re just the best. (Eating a lot of them recently has rendered me inarticulate — that’s how good they are.) Seared scallops take virtually no time to make, and once you know a few basics, they’re pretty hard to screw up. And yet they seem so special. I don’t know how they do it.

I don’t care how they do it.

This recipe brings out the natural sweetness and succulence of scallops and enhances it just enough with pops of chorizo and chives. Nestled over a bed of basmati rice pilaf, it’s sheer perfection for date night, a small dinner party, or even weeknight dinner.

You’ll find all of this information in the recipe below, but I just want to add a quick note to say that success with scallops is at least 70% achieved at the store.

How to buy scallops

  • Buy a pound of the freshest scallops you can find. Like all fresh seafood, they should smell good and briny like the sea.
  • Buy sea scallops, not bay scallops. (Bay scallops are much smaller and typically used in different types of dishes.)
  • Perhaps most importantly, buy “DRY scallops, meaning they haven’t been injected with a chemical solution to plump them up. Dry scallops both taste way better and sear way better.
  • And finally, buy “10-20” scallops which means there are 10 to 20 of them in a pound.

Ingredients for pan-seared scallops with chorizo

To make this recipe, you will need:

  • A pound of 10-20 dry sea scallops. See the section above for everything you need to know.
  • Spanish-style chorizo (this is the dry-cured sausage that doesn’t need to be cooked)
  • Safflower oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Chives to garnish
  • One recipe of basmati rice pilaf

How to prep scallops for pan-searing

You don’t have to do much to prep dry scallops for searing, but there are a couple of easy tricks to getting the best results. Watch the video in this post to see it all in action.

  • First, you’ll remove and discard the tough little muscle on the side of the scallop.
  • Then you’ll pat both sides of the scallops dry with a paper towel to ensure the sear as well as possible.
  • You’ll sprinkle the scallops with salt and pepper. That’s it — they’re ready to sear.
Collage of removing the muscle from dry sea scallops, patting dry with a paper towel, and sprinkling with salt and pepper

How to pan-sear scallops

Searing scallops is quick and easy. Here’s all you have to do to for a nice, basic sear. Follow the additional instructions below to make this recipe.

  • Over high heat, preheat a 12-inch nonstick frying pan with a bit of safflower or other neutral-tasting oil meant for high-heat cooking.
  • Add the scallops and cook for 60 seconds without disturbing.
  • Add butter and cook for 30 seconds more.
  • Turn scallops once and cook for about 30 seconds more, until just shy of opaque on the inside. They’ll continue to cook a bit off the heat, and you want them to be perfectly tender inside.
Collage of searing scallops in a nonstick frying pan using red tongs and then placing the scallops on a plate atop basmati rice pilaf

Additional steps for this recipe

In addition to searing the scallops, you’ll also do the following to make this easy pan-seared scallops recipe:

  • Dice and brown a couple of ounces of Spanish chorizo (right in the same pan before searing the scallops)
  • Mince up some chives and sprinkle them over the top of the scallops after plating.

What to serve with pan-seared scallops

We love these scallops served over a bed of basmati rice pilaf. You could also serve them over our favorite lemony orzo recipe. A simple green salad or some French green beans would be a great accompaniment.

Two plates of scallops and chorizo over rice pilaf

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Pan-Seared Scallops with Chorizo

Seared scallops are a quick and easy yet special-feeling meal. Smoky, spicy Spanish chorizo adds some complexity to scallops' sweet, mild taste and some textural contrast too.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Serves Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 pound dry sea scallops, 10-20 (see note)
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 ounces Spanish-style chorizo
  • 1 tablespoon safflower oil (or other high-heat vegetable oil)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Chopped chives to garnish, optional

Directions

  1. If your scallops still have the little piece of muscle attached to the side, remove and discard it. (See video for technique.) Pat scallops dry with paper towels and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  2. Dice the chorizo into small cubes (about 1/4-inch). Heat a 12-inch nonstick pan over high heat. Add chorizo and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned on several sides — just a few minutes. Remove chorizo to a bowl. 
  3. Add oil to pan and keep over high heat. When very hot, add scallops without crowding. Cook 60 seconds without moving, then add butter and cook 30 seconds more. Use tongs to flip each scallop and cook just until done to your liking. I like to pull them off the heat before they're opaque in the center, which, depending on size, may mean just 30 seconds or so on the second side.
  4. To serve, place a few scallops and some of the chorizo on each plate and sprinkle with chives, if using. These are great over basmati rice pilaf.

Notes

There's a lot of information in that ingredient line about scallops! Here's what it all means. You're buying one pound of scallops. They're sea scallops, not bay scallops. (Bay scallops are much smaller and typically used in different types of dishes.) They're "dry," meaning they haven't been injected with a chemical solution to plump them up. (Dry scallops both taste way better and sear way better.) And they're "10-20," which means there are 10 to 20 of them in a pound. (This tells you about what size they'll be.)

Nutrition Information

Amount Per Serving:

Calories:: 271 Total Fat:: 15.4g Carbohydrates:: 6.5g Fiber:: 0g Protein:: 26.8g

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