Published May 1, 2011. From Cook's Illustrated.
A blazing-hot fire can render scallops beautifully crisp on the outside and juicy within—or cement them to the grates like carbonized hockey pucks.
By the time grilled scallops develop a good sear, they’re overcooked and rubbery. And flipping them is virtually impossible: No amount of oil keeps them from sticking to the grates.
We wanted scallops that were lightly charred on the outside, tender and juicy inside, and tinged with smoke flavor.
Our recipe testing started at the supermarket fish counter. Not only did we want the largest sea specimens we could find, but we also made sure that we purchased “dry,” not “wet,” scallops. Dry scallops are worth seeking out because they have not been treated with a preservative solution of water and sodium tripolyphosphate, which gives them a soapy, metallic flavor and causes them to leach out water during cooking.
Before grilling, we blotted the scallops dry between layers of kitchen towels, which ensured good browning. We then took two measures to make flipping them easier: We threaded the bivalves onto doubled metal skewers and lightly coated them with a slurry of vegetable oil, flour, cornstarch, and sugar. This coating gave the scallops a crisp coating that easily released from the grill grates. Super-heating the grates by covering them with aluminum foil and then painting them with numerous layers of oil also helped get the scallops off the grill in one piece.
To properly cook the scallops, we needed a quick blast of blazing heat—but since most grill grates aren’t adjustable, we had to find a way to build the biggest fire possible. The solution turned out to be placing a disposable aluminum pan in the center of the grill and filling it with a chimney‘s worth of lit coals. This produced an even layer of coals that gave our scallops impressive char and juicy centers.
These grilled scallops tasted just about perfect with nothing more than a squeeze of lemon, but we whipped up a couple of boldly flavored vinaigrettes—one featuring chile and lime, the other basil—for more dressed-up occasions.list of recipes