I’ve made this recipe three times in the past 9 months, with the firm intention of blogging about it.  The photos never did it justice, and even though I’m still not satisfied with the way the pictures turned out, I must go ahead with the post:  this recipe is too good to keep  secret! 😉

Cooking scallops can be intimidating, they are expensive and easy to mess up.   A few seconds longer in the pan, and their delicate texture is ruined.  Dorie Greenspan, in her book “Around my French Table,” offers a great take on scallops, with a sauce that was born to embrace them.

(from Dorie Greenspan)

2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup orange juice
1 lb sea scallops
2 teaspoons olive oil
salt and freshly ground white pepper
1 tablespoon cold butter, cut into 3 pieces

First, make the sauce. Mix the orange juice and white wine in a small bowl and reserve. Sprinkle the sugar into a small saucepan (see my comments on the type of pan I like to use for this).  Place the pan over medium-high heat and warm the sugar until it starts to melt and color. As soon as you see the caramel in the pan turning brown, begin to gently swirl the pan. About 3 minutes into the cooking time, when the sugar is deep caramel in color, stand back and add the orange/wine mixture.   It will bubble and spatter, just keep stirring with a wooden spoon, and boil until the sauce is reduced by half — you should have about 1/3 cup. Pull the pan from the heat and set it aside.  If not using the sauce immediately, you can keep it for a couple of days in the fridge.

Pat the scallops dry between two paper towels.  Put the saucepan with the caramel sauce over very low heat so that it can warm while you cook the scallops.

Put a heavy-bottomed skillet over high heat. When the pan is hot, pour in 1 tsp  olive oil and swirl to coat the bottom. Add the scallops, season them with salt and pepper, add a little more oil if needed, and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes, or until the scallops are firm on the outside and just barely opaque in the center. Transfer the scallops to a serving platter.

Check that the caramel sauce is hot, remove the pan from the heat and toss in the butter, bit by bit, swirling the pan until the butter is melted and the sauce is glistening. Season the sauce with salt and pepper, then drizzle some over the scallops, serving additional sauce at the table.


to print the recipe, click here

To make the sauce, my favorite pan is this cute little red skillet from Bialetti.   I bought it when we were in Los Angeles because our electric cooking stovetop was so tiny, I had no pan that would fit nicely on it.   Since the pan is white, it’s very easy to see the caramel color, no need to guess or transfer a small amount to a white plate.

I strongly advise you to make a double batch of the sauce, I never seem to have enough, it’s so delicious!   It would go well on shrimp, and even chicken breasts or pork tenderloin.   Slightly sweet, slightly sour, feels complex even though it is made with only a few ingredients.

These scallops are elegant enough to serve for company, although  depending on the number of guests I would offer it as a small first course.   Everything happens pretty quickly with this recipe, I don’t quite picture myself handling too many for a main dish for more than 2 couples.  I know my limitations!  😉

ONE YEAR AGO: Fire-Roasted Tomato Risotto

TWO YEARS AGO:  A Special Dinner for Two

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34 thoughts on “THIRD TIME IS A CHARM

  1. Sally, what do you think is wrong with the photo? I wish I could eat it straight from the screen, the scallops are amazing! I have this book and had bookmarked the recipe, but forgot all about it until I saw your blog post on my email feed – thanks for the reminder, and I really love the photo, glad you went ahead with the post


  2. I was just looking at a scallop recipe for dinner tonight “Seared Scallops with Cider Glaze”, but this recipe sounds great if I have orange juice. I have leftover butternut squash grits think I’ll try to make grits cakes and both recipes would go nicely. Yummy. Thanks for posting the recipe


  3. These look delicious Sally! We love scallops and this sauce looks like a wonderful complement to them. Beautifully done! I for one am happy you posted this recipe. 🙂


  4. Oh my I wouldn’t resist this one..I love scallops, but are hard to get here in the country..Oh how I long for the open city fish markets…
    The sauce sounds delicious!


    • I am now in the same situation as you – but sometimes I find good quality frozen ones. IN a pinch, they will do, and a sauce like this one helps a lot. If you like prawns, they would work beautifully too in this preparation


  5. Well will wonders never cease, this is the first mouth-watering recipe of yours posted that I have actually already made! And it is a great one, I made it over and over this winter after I first got the cookbook.
    I agree there’s not quite enough sauce in the original recipe. Never thought of making it with pork tenderloin but that’s a great idea.


    • Hello there, Kathy! Nice to see you here… I remember you loved this recipe too. I am tempted to try it on shrimp this weekend, but knowing myself, I’ll probably move in a totally different direction. 😉


  6. Your scallops look fantastic Sally and I have to smile reading about your blogging angst – I’ve got two similar dishes on ‘hold’ not entirely sure if I’m satisfied with the photos… a blogger’s life I think 🙂 You got a great looking sear on these and the orange, caramel sauce sounds pretty perfect. Delish!


    • I still have two dishes “on hold”, in Blog Purgatory, not sure of their fate yet. So, we are on the same wavelength 🙂

      I’ve got a serious problem with brown food – brownies, chocolate cakes, ice creams, or beef stews. There must be a trick to making brown food look appetizing in photos, I just have no clue of what it is!


  7. Sally, it is Mary again…..what size pan did you use for the sauce…8 inch or 10 inch. BTW, do you have an ipad? I know you are a Donna Hay fan and her app just came out and her first magazine is free….


    • I have the 8-inch, smallest size. I see it’s backordered due to high demand… I am not surprised, it’s a cute and functional little skillet, priced right.

      I don’t have an iPad, or iPhone… I will probably be the last human being to get either, if I ever… actually, I’m tempted by the iPhone, now that they released the new version, I might get the iPhone3 🙂


  8. Interesting, I ordered the pan yesterday from Amazon and got it today….the 8 inch, but when it came it looked smallish….
    I am truly loving my ipad, I had neither previously….seriously consider one.
    Many sincere thanks again…..where was the original Donna Hay Fire Roasted Tomato Risotto recipe you made?


  9. I know how you feel about photos! I’ve made some dishes I’d like to post, but the photo was horrible!! And, I know about not wanting to ruin scallops with a not so good recipe! I’m excited to try this out. I love the sear on it from the carmelized sweetness.


  10. Sally I read that now that they’ve introduced the new iPhone, you can get the iPhone 3Gs for free if you enter a contract with one of the carriers.


    • I heard about that – actually one of our graduate students is on a mission to find me THE perfect phone. Everyone else has one, except Phil and I… I might get one before the end of the year


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