August 10, 2010

Grilled Scallops

Scallops are pure muscle: Fishermen throw their beautiful turquoise and orange bodies over the side, bagging only the scallop's hinge muscle. They are low in calories (26 for 2 large/5 small) and saturated fat, and high in the minerals magnesium, potassium and selenium, as well as vitamin B12.

We like to grill outdoors as much as possible in the summer. If you do not have access to a grill, this recipe may be done in a pan on the stove.

For now anyway, we live on the East coast, so we can get fresh scallops. If scallops are not local for you, you can substitute frozen jumbo shrimp.

A room temperature lime yields 3 to 4 times the amount of juice as a cold one. If you forget to remove your limes from the refrigerator well ahead of time, running hot water over them will help somewhat.


  • 3/4 lb. fresh, large sea scallops (or frozen jumbo shrimp)
  • 2 fresh limes at room temperature
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • black or white pepper
  • fresh parsley

  • Slice one lime and juice it. Only slice the second lime if you do not have enough juice for the marinade plus 2 T. 
  • Remove scallops from package and pat dry. DO NOT RINSE! (Frozen shrimp may be defrosted in their package in a bowl of cool water. Peel and devein to prepare for cooking.)
  • Reserving 2 T. of juice, marinate the scallops in lime juice for 30-60 minutes.
  • Preheat grill to 350 to 400 degrees
  • Remove scallops from marinade and place them in a bowl with the olive oil.
  • Toss gently to lightly coat.
  • Grill large scallops (2" diam. x 1-1/2" high) for 3 minutes on each side; for smaller scallops, 2 min. per side.
  • Remove from grill as soon as they turn opaque white and place on serving platter or individual plates.
  • Cover with reserved marinade and lightly sprinkle with pepper and fresh parsley; serve immediately.
Serves: 2
Calories: Less than 220 for 8 big ones!
Serving suggestion: Steamed broccoli or string beans and quinoa flavored with vegetable broth.

Notes on shopping and cooking:
  • We ask you not to rinse scallops because, according to a former scallop fisherman, washing removes much of their flavor. (One caveat: Unless you buy "dry," "chemical free," "unsoaked" or "day boat" scallops, there will be an additive/preservative ~ sodium tripolyphosphate, or STP.)
  • You will only get the nice grill marks on the larger scallops that cook 3 minutes on each side. Large or small, they taste the same, but success is easier with the larger ones, so buy the biggest scallops you can find. 
  • Scallops become tough and tasteless very quickly, so waiting for grill marks on the smaller ones is counterproductive. Don't worry about cooking scallops thoroughly enough: When they change from translucent pink to opaque white, they are ready. (Shrimp turn from grayish to bright white with pink highlights.)
  • Tip: Have the rest of the meal ready before you begin grilling, because you must serve scallops immediately in order to enjoy their full flavor and tenderness.
  • Remember to remove two limes from the refrigerator ahead of time!
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