Living in a small town in the Midwest, there is a challenge finding fresh, quality seafood.  Our markets carry a lot of fish but it is usually “thawed” out from frozen.  I actually prefer to purchase the flash frozen fish because then I know exactly how long it has thawed and the source of the fish is usually listed on the package.  (Don’t trust a package that says the products origin is “the water”.  It is usually a good indication that you are about to get food poisoning)

I rarely can find sea scallops that don’t look suspicious so I frequently buy dry-packed frozen scallops.  Dry packed scallops are naturally sweeter, sear easier and have a better texture than wet-packed scallops.  (Wet-packed scallops usually get pumped with food additives or water to help preserve them.  Depending on the brand, it can alter the taste of the product)

I always thaw the scallops overnight in the fridge and lay them on paper towels to absorb any unnecessary moisture.  To get a perfect sear, the scallop needs to be dry.  Another thing to remember is to remove the “foot”  (I don’t like to think of my food having appendages, let alone eating them.)  The foot is edible but it has a different texture then the body of the scallop so it is best to remove them.

Spaghetti with Seared Scallops, Fennel and Tomatoes


8 ounces spaghetti

12 sea scallops

Olive oil

2 cloves fresh garlic, minced

1 shallot, diced

½ of a fennel bulb, diced

Pint of grape tomatoes

½ cup white wine

½ cup lemon juice

2 Tbsp heavy cream

Salt and pepper


  1. Cook pasta per box instructions.  Do NOT overcook the pasta because it will be reintroduced to the pan and it will continue to cook.  Save a little pasta water for later.
  2. Heat a sauté pan over high heat.  Add about a tablespoon or so of olive oil to the pan.  It should be enough to circulate around the pan.
  3. Sprinkle scallops with salt and pepper.
  4. Add the scallops to the pan and cook 2 minutes on each side. (No more than that or you will overcook them)
  5. Remove from pan and keep warm.
  6. Lower heat, add a smidge more olive oil.  Add fennel and shallots and sauté until they start to caramelize.
  7. Add garlic and tomatoes.  Sauté for about a minute.  (You don’t want the garlic to brown or it will make everything else taste bitter)
  8. Turn up the heat to medium high and add wine and lemon juice.  Simmer for a couple more minutes to allow the flavors to combine.
  9. Remove pan from heat, add cream, and spaghetti.  Mix well to coat the pasta.  Taste for seasoning.  If it seems too dense, add a little of your pasta water and taste again for seasoning.  (I think I added about ¼ cup when I made this last time)
  10. Place your spaghetti on plates and top with the seared scallops.


When I had originally bought my scallops, I had another dish in mind.  I looked in my refrigerator and wanted to use up some produce so I altered my plans.  It proved to be a wonderful detour of flavors.  I also liked that there was a “lightness” to this dish.  It will satisfy every part of your pallet without weighing you down for the night.