Quick, convenient, and succulent, baked scallops are always a welcome treat. Especially when they are both buttery and doused in a mouth-puckering citrus-ginger sauce. Talk about flavor.
What I truly love about working with scallops is how approachable they are. I love when an ingredient is so good that I can throw it together at the last minute and impress everyone. It’s pure magic.
And…I’ll tell you exactly why we are baking these little puppies.
Scallops: Baked versus Pan-Seared
News flash. Scallops don’t taste great when they sit and get cold. If you are cooking for 2 or more people, scallops either get crowded in a single sauté pan or require multiple rounds of cooking. To get a little caramelization like you do when cooking for a single person, you’ve got to spread them out and make sure they are all ready at the same moment. Capishe?
Conclusion: Properly timed, baked scallops are a practical alternative to sautéed scallops.
Which Scallops are Best for Baking?
When buying scallops, look for fresh, dry packed “sea” or “jumbo” scallops and plan for about 1 pound per person.
Jumbo sea scallops weigh in at about 1 pound per 8 scallops. You want to avoid small bay scallops for baking because they tend to steam in the oven and will overcook if you try to develop color. If you can only source bay scallops, you may want to try a high moisture cooking method, such as simmering (for example, fisherman’s stew).
|Type of Scallop||Quantity||Weight||Size (Diameter)|
|Bay Scallops||60||1 pound||3/4-inch|
|Sea Scallops||8||1 pound||2-inches|
Why a Citrus Ginger Sauce Works with Scallops
I was testing this recipe in winter and wanted something that wasn’t drab and since citrus is that one sunny spot I bask in, here we are. Having worked among chefs, you tend to hear over and over again: fresh seafood needs little more than olive oil and citrus. This is the philosophy behind this and practically all of my recipe development.
Please expect a delicate sauce folks. It’s practically just juice, actually. With enough salt, I’m sure you will find that the lightness highlights rather than masks the sea scallops.
What is Tarragon?
Mild and fresh tasting, tarragon is a delicate anise flavored herb that’s available in the produce section with other packaged herbs. The leaves can be picked off the stem, sliced and tossed over seafood, pasta, or leafy greens. Just try it, please.
Perfectly Baked Scallops: Step-By-Step
As you can see in the process shot below, I decided to bake these scallops with unmelted butter (it melts as they cook and saves a step), but you could still melt it first and brush the butter over the tops if you want a little more golden color.
You’ll also notice that the orange, lemon, and ginger juice gets added after the scallops have baked. This is to allow them to caramelize a bit.
What to Serve with Baked Scallops
- Noodles: Simply toss with extra butter and tarragon
- Mashed cauliflower or potatoes
- Beans, such as green beans or a white bean salad
Hope you love the recipe and share with someone special.
BAKED SCALLOPS WITH CITRUS GINGER SAUCE
- 16 large sea scallops approximately 2 pounds
- 1 tablespoon avocado oil or olive oil
- Sea salt to taste
- 2 tablespoons butter or ghee
- 1 orange zested and juiced*
- 1 lemon juiced
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger grated finely then squeezed for juice*
- Fresh tarragon finely sliced for garnish
- Bake the scallops. Preheat the oven to 425F. Pat the scallops dry with paper towels and put them in a bowl. Toss with oil and a couple pinches of salt. Place coated scallops in an 8- by 10- inch baking dish in a single layer with some room between each scallop. Cut the butter into cubes (or add gobs of ghee) between some of the scallops (it will melt and spread in the oven). Bake until slightly golden on top, about 20 minutes.
- Sauce and serve. In a small bowl, combine the orange zest and juice, lemon juice, and ginger juice. Spoon over the scallops and return to the oven for a couple of minutes to slightly reduce the sauce. Taste and add more salt if needed. Serve with tarragon.
Photography by Adam Rahman.