Scallops in Lemon Butter Sauce

Scallops are one of those foods most people only prepare for special occasions, such as a romantic dinner for two or for a small dinner party gathering. Aside from the expense for good scallops, they have a rich, decadent taste that make them a wonderful ‘treat’. Scallops can be served so many ways, but this recipe for Scallops in Lemon Butter Sauce is amazing and a must try.

Scallops are a family of bivalve mollusks found in all of the world’s oceans (though never in freshwater). They are one of a few groups of bivalves to be “free living” (many of the species are capable of quickly swimming small distances and even migrating great distances across the ocean floor). The majority of scallops live resting on sandy substrates and when they sense a predator (such as a starfish) they can escape by swimming swiftly and erratically through the water using a form of jet propulsion they create by repetitively clapping their shells together. They are highly prized as a food source (with good reason) and for this reason some are farmed as aquaculture. Scallops also produce pearls, though they don’t have the build-up of “nacre” and may not have iridescence or luster – the pearls are often dull, small and vary in color, but there are exceptions. The earliest known scallops can be found from the Triassic period, over 200 million years ago and fossil records indicate the species has varied greatly over time. They have a very rich, slightly sweet and salty flavor profile.

Lemon is almost the perfect pairing for scallops. The juice of a lemon is about 5-6% citric acid, which is what gives lemons a sour taste and it is this distinctive sour taste that makes lemons a key ingredient in many goods and drinks (such as lemonade and lemon meringue pie). As such, lemons are often used as a marinade for fishes, where its acid neutralizes the amines in fish by converting them into non-volatile ammonium salts. Aside from cooking, lemons have many other uses – including cleaning and medicinal. Lemon oil may be used in aromatherapy to enhance mood. The low pH balance makes it an antibacterial as well.

The recipe for scallops in lemon butter sauce is relatively simple and calls for a few very basic ingredients, such as unsalted butter, minced garlic, lemon juice and salt and pepper. While can substitute ReaLemon (lemon juice you can purchase off the shelves of your grocer’s market), it really is no substitute for real lemon juice (plus, the lemon may also be cut up and used as garnish to enhance the aesthetic quality of your dish). The most difficult part of the recipe is cooking the scallops “just right”. This takes time and patience, but once you find the key to cooking perfect scallops you will have yourself a winning dish! A hint: only turn the scallops once until they’re golden brown on each side (which takes about 1-2 minutes per side) and translucent in the center. Go ahead and give this scallop recipe a try: you won’t be disappointed.

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