When warmer weather beckons us outside, these easy grilled scallop kabobs quickly replace our go-to pan-seared scallops. The sea scallops are briefly marinated in oil, garlic, sumac, and Aleppo pepper, threaded onto skewers, grilled to perfection, and served with a smoky scallion and sumac sauce.
Adapted from Christine Sahadi Whelan | Flavors of the Sun | Chronicle Books, 2021
Sumac is my go-to spice when I need to brighten up a dish. Its tart, almost lemony flavor is an ideal complement to any fish or poultry that finds its way onto my grill. While scallops are quite delicate, I find that the extreme heat of grilling brings out their sweetness even better than pan frying, giving them a lovely caramelized crust that can stand up to this earthy puréed sauce.–Christine Sahadi Whelan
Grilled Scallop Kabobs FAQs
How can I select the best fresh sea scallops?
Look for scallops that are not pure white, and that are not stored in water. Pure white scallops have likely either been sitting in and absorbing water (which will add weight to the already considerable price per pound) or chemicals, which can cause them to lose nutrients and natural color.
Look for your fresh scallops to be pale beige to creamy pink in color, and if you can get close enough to smell them, they should have a clean, fresh aroma.
What should I serve with grilled scallop kabobs?
These grilled scallop kabobs are an easy entree that is perfect for casual entertaining. Add a Greek salad or pomegranate roasted beets and a basket of warm pita, and you’ve got a meal.
How spicy is an Aleppo pepper?
Aleppo peppers ring in on the Scoville Scale with 10,000 SCU. (Jalapenos can be 2000-2500 SCU, for comparison). They’re considered to be moderately spicy and are used as flavor enhancers – not just heat-makers. If you enjoy crushed red pepper flakes, you’ll enjoy Aleppo pepper flakes as they’re milder, but still flavorful.
Grilled Scallop Kabobs
- Metal or pre-soaked wooden skewers
For the sea scallops
- 1 pound sea scallops
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon ground sumac
- 1 garlic clove minced
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon Aleppo pepper
For the scallion-sumac sauce
- 1 bunch scallions trimmed
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Juice of 1 lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
- 1 teaspoon ground sumac
- 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro or fresh dill
- 1 bunch fresh chives with chive blossoms if in season, leaves chopped
Marinate the sea scallops
- Dry the scallops thoroughly and use a sharp knife to pull off the tough strips of muscle on the side of each.
- To make the scallop marinade, combine the oil, sumac, minced garlic, salt, and black and Aleppo peppers in a medium bowl. Add the scallops and toss to coat, then cover with plastic and refrigerate for 45 minutes.
- When ready to cook, prepare a grill or preheat a ridged grill pan until very hot. Use an oil-saturated paper towel and tongs to oil the grates thoroughly. Thread the scallops onto pairs of skewers (this keeps them from spinning).
Make the scallion-sumac sauce
- When the grill or grill pan is hot, place the scallions and the 2 garlic cloves in a grill basket and grill, turning often, until they start to char in a few spots, 4 to 6 minutes.
- Transfer the scallions and garlic to a blender and add the parsley, oil, lemon juice, sumac, Aleppo pepper, and salt. Purée until smooth, then transfer to a small bowl.
Grill the scallop kabobs
- Place the scallop kabobs over the hottest part of the fire and sear on one side until they are nicely marked and release easily, about 3 minutes. Turn and grill the second side just until cooked through to an internal temperature of 115°F (46°C), 1 or 2 minutes more. Do not overcook.
- Transfer the scallops to a platter and sprinkle with the chopped herbs. Serve with the scallion-sumac sauce.
If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We’d love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
We really did enjoy these grilled sea scallop kabobs! Marinated with two of my favourite ingredients, Aleppo pepper and sumac, they were quite appealing. The scallops came off the grill with perfect doneness and were fabulous on the plate! I will be making them again.
The extras were quite appealing, too. However, they seemed to mask the scallop flavour. So, while delicious and a wonderful dip, the sauce seemed a bit overwhelming, and I feel it should be used in moderation. I would also recommend using a fraction of the amount of herbs called for. For me, that meant about one or two teaspoons of the combined blend.
I made Surf ‘n’ Surf, scallops and deep-fried breaded calamari, serving that with a simple wild and brown rice pilaf. We had a glass of Sauvignon Blanc to accompany.
Originally published June 14, 2022
If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We'd love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
I didn’t grow up eating scallops and all my experiences as an adult had left me indifferent. Let me tell you, it’s impossible to dislike scallops after trying one of these grilled scallop kabobs. What’s nice about this recipe is while there are so many bright flavors, the scallops are never in danger of being upstaged. They end up being sweet and tender with a little bit of grill smoke and we had no trouble finishing them. The marinade flavor ends up being surprisingly subtle, but I think I prefer it that way. Be VERY attentive to the scallop skewers, which when cooked over high heat really take only the time listed in the recipe, possibly even less. Mine were completed with only 1 minute on the second side.
My only change is that I oiled the grill grates between steps 3 and 4, right before the scallops went on, rather than right when the grill was preheated in step 2. Doing it this way, my scallops didn’t stick at all.
To serve, we slid the scallops off the skewers onto a serving platter and garnished there. We served these kabobs with couscous and roasted vegetables.