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Pan Seared Scallops with Chardonnay Lemon Dijon Sauce and Cucumber Sesame Salad

So, this all came about because I made a cucumber salad and I wanted to pair it with a protein. I needed something that would go well with the chilled salad. I could tell you that I went through a catalogue of possibilities like sweet & sour pork or a seared citrus glazed duck breast before I landed on pan seared sea scallops. But to be honest, I couldn’t think of a better lead for the cucumber salad than the flavor of a well seared scallop. This is a relatively quick and easy recipe to put together. It can be made for one as light meal or for two to open a meal.

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1 pc English cucumber
1 lemon zested & juiced
2tsp sesame oil
1tsp kosher salt + 1/2 tsp to macerate cucumbers
2tsp sugar + 1tsp to macerate cucumbers
1Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp sesame seeds
5oz dry packed sea scallops (approximately 4 lg sea scallops)
1/4 cup chardonnay
1 lemon zested & juiced
1pc cooked bacon rough chopped (optional)
2tsp Dijon mustard
2tsp virgin olive oil


Cucumber salad

1. Remove the plastic from the cucumber, give it a quick wash and pat dry.

2. Cut ends of the cucumber and cut into 3″ pc.

3. Cut each 3″ pc lengthwise.

4. Place each piece skin side up in a plastic freezer bag. Using a medium sauté pan lightly pound the cucumbers until they begin to split and are slightly flattened.

5. Transfer cucumbers to cutting board and cut in alternating diagonals.

6. Place a colander into a mixing bowl and add the cut cucumbers. Sprinkle 1/2 tsp of kosher salt and 1 tsp of sugar on the cucumbers. Gently toss the cucumbers.

7. Use a freezer bag filled with ice or a bag of frozen vegetables to weigh down the cucumbers. Place the cucumbers in the refrigerator and let drain for at least 30 minutes.

8. While the cucumbers are macerating combine the zest & juice of 1 lemon, sesame oil 1tsp kosher salt & 2 tsp sugar in a mixing bowl and whisk. Once combined set aside.

9. Add sesame seeds to a dry cold sauté pan. Place the pan over medium heat. Swirl the pan on the stove top to keep the sesame seeds moving so they do not burn. If the seeds start to stick to the pan use a rubber spatula to help to keep them moving.

10. Remove the seeds from the heat once they turn golden brown.

11. After the cucumbers have macerated for at least 30 minutes remove from the refrigerator, place on paper towels and pat dry.

12. Toss the cucumbers with 1Tbsp extra virgin olive oil then add the dressing and the sesame seeds. Set aside.


1. Place scallops on a few sheets of paper towel and pat dry. If the abductor muscle (on the side of the scallop) is still attached, you will want to remove that from the scallop.

2. Lightly season scallops with kosher salt.

3. Place medium sauté pan with 2 tsp of olive oil on stovetop over medium heat. Once the oil begins to shimmer add the scallops to the pan one at a time.

4. Let the scallops sear on the one side for approximately 2-3 minutes (resist the urge to fiddle with them). Will the scallops are searing season the up side with some kosher salt.

5. After the 2-3 minutes turn the scallops (they should be a golden brown) and let the other side sear for 1 minute.

6. Remove the scallops from the pan and set aside on a plate. Add the chopped bacon and let some of the bacon fat render into the pan.

7. Add the 2tsp of Dijon mustard to the pan and let heat through for 30 seconds. Swirl the pan or use a rubber spatula to move the mustard around. (If you are omitting the bacon you can skip to this step).

8. Deglaze the pan with the lemon juice and chardonnay. Allow the liquid to reduce by half.

9. Once the sauce begins to thicken check for seasoning. Add salt if needed. Sprinkle in the 1/2 of the lemon zest. (If it seems to thick add 1tsp of water to thin it out a bit).

10. On a 9″ plate or the plate of your choosing swipe some of the sauce on the plate. Place the cucumber salad on top of the sauce and arrange the scallops around the cucumber salad.

11. Add remaining sauce around the scallops and garnish with the remaining lemon zest.

by: Aham Amachi
Aham is a graduate of The Restaurant School in Philadelphia. He has worked as cook at Cuvee Notre Dame in Philadelphia and Sous Chef at the former 'Stazi Milano' in Jenkintown. Currently, he is the Manager of Operations for The Philadelphia Catering Company.
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