This recipe for Seared Scallops in a Cayenne Corn Puree is by far one of my favorite dishes to prepare and serve guests. Once you learn the technique to perfectly sear scallops, you will wonder why you don’t make them at home more often. You want to start with super-fresh, dry-packed scallops. I get mine locally from The Carolina Meat & Fish Co.
You can make the puree while the scallops are searing. Dinner will be done in just about 15 minutes!
Rinse your scallops and pull off the foot (tiny muscle on the side). Place the scallops on paper towels to dry…dry thoroughly. The key to a great sear on a scallop is to be sure to dry them completely. Season the scallops with salt and pepper.
Grab a cast iron skillet and allow to heat to a medium high. I do coat my pan with just a touch of olive oil or butter. When the pan is super hot, place about 4 to 5 scallops in pan…do not overcrowd…you can cook in batches if need be. Allow the scallops to sear on one side for about 2 to 3 minutes depending on the size…as much as you may want to…DO NOT TOUCH…just allow them to sear. When seared on one side, flip and sear the other. Be sure not to overcook. The more you do this, the better you will become at just knowing when the scallop is fully cooked and tender.
If you are using bacon, crisp up about 6 pieces then cut into tiny pieces. Drain any excess grease. If you can find freshly picked corn, grab about five to six ears (instead of using canned) and cut the kernels off the cob.
As you are heating up your cast iron skillet for your scallops, grab a pot, add the corn, salt and pepper, butter, heavy whipping cream and cayenne pepper (I usually use about one teaspoon, but you can definitely use more/less depending on your preferred heat level). Allow the pot to come to a boil and boil for about 5 to 6 minutes. Keep a watch that the pot does not overflow.
Remove pot from heat and blend with an immersion blender. If the mixture seems too thin, then just drain a bit of the liquid out prior to blending. You can also use a food processor. If you do not want the pieces of kernels in your finished product, then you can strain after blending. I prefer not straining. Add about three-quarters of the bacon pieces to the blended mixture. To plate for individual servings, I use a flat, wide bowl and pour part of the mixture in the bowl and top with 3 to 4 seared scallops. Top with extra bits of bacon and fresh chopped parsley.