Seared Scallops with Cider Brown Butter

Seared Scallops with Cider Brown Butter Recipe

I generally don’t pair fish and fruit, yet I find that the apple flavor blends well with the meaty quality of the scallops in this seared scallops with cider brown butter recipe. Among Wildwood seafood lovers, this dish is a favorite. Sea scallops found in stores are often treated with tripolyphosphate, a preservative that affects their sweet flavor. This treatment also causes the scallops to retain water and to weigh a little more on the store scales. For this reason, you may hear them referred to as “wet scallops,” because they release a lot of excess water into the pan during cooking. The water is problematic when sauteing because it prevents the scallops from achieving a nice caramelized color and texture. I prefer to use nontreated, dry-packed scallops. They are more difficult to find but well worth the hunt.–Cory Schreiber

LC Saintly Shells Note

Betcha didn’t know that the scallop shell has long been associated with Saint James, the patron saint of Spain. Pilgrims en route to his shrine in Galicia often wear such a shell to indicate the purpose of their journey. The route itself is also marked with scallop shells set into the pavement and some walls as a guide. This, of course, explains the naming convention of the French delicacy coquille Saint Jacqes, which in English means shell of Saint James. While we can’t promise any saintly intervention in the preparation of this dish, we don’t think you’ll need it. Just follow the recipe and you’ll find the end result to be an everyday miracle, all by itself.

Seared Scallops with Cider Brown Butter Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 25 M
  • 25 M
  • Serves 4


  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 6 tablespoons (3 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 1 pound sea scallops, patted dry with paper towels
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, cored and julienned
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 16 small fresh sage leaves
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice


  • 1. In a large skillet, bring the cider to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil for 6 to 8 minutes, or until reduced to about 3 tablespoons. Pour into a bowl and set aside.
  • 2. In another large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Season the scallops with the salt and pepper. Cook the scallops until lightly browned on the outside and opaque throughout, about 2 minutes on each side (do not overcook). Remove from the pan and keep warm.
  • 3. Add the remaining 4 tablespoons butter to the skillet. Brown the butter over medium heat, being careful not to burn. Stir in the reduced cider, half of the julienned apple, the sage, and lemon juice. Simmer until the apple is tender and the sauce is slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
  • 4. To serve, put the scallops in a serving dish and spoon on the sauce. Garnish with the remaining julienned apple.
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