Scallops are a beautiful ingredient to cook with. However, although they taste wonderful when done right, they have the potential to be rubbery if you cook them incorrectly. So, why are scallops sometimes rubbery when cooked?
Scallops become rubbery as a result of being overcooked. Scallops are muscles, and muscles contract and stiffen when cooked. Therefore, to avoid your scallops becoming rubbery, cook them for two to three minutes on each side in a pan on high heat. This will ensure your scallops are tender.
So the key to preventing your scallops from turning to rubber is cooking them correctly. This article discusses how to cook scallops perfectly and prevent them from being rubbery. We will also discuss other tips and tricks for avoiding rubbery scallops. Whether you are a novice at cooking scallops or have some experience, this article is an excellent guide for anyone wishing to prevent rubbery scallops.
Why Do Scallops Become Rubbery?
The primary reason for scallops being rubbery is that they are overcooked or cooked incorrectly. There are many ways to cook scallops, such as steaming, baking, and broiling. However, the most delicious way of cooking scallops is by searing them in a pan on the stove.
When searing scallops, your pan should be red hot before placing the scallops in the pan. This will ensure the scallops sear quickly and get a deep brown caramelized surface while retaining the moisture inside.
Scallops are essentially one big muscle. Muscle, when cooked, shrinks and stiffens. In addition, scallops have very little fat. This means that the scallops will dry out much quicker. Therefore, if you overcook the scallops, they will shrink and lose moisture, causing them to become rubbery.
The type of scallops you use and how you prepare the scallops before searing them significantly influences the texture of the cooked scallops. What scallops should you buy to prevent them from being rubbery when cooked?
There are three main kinds of scallops: sea scallops, bay scallops, and calico scallops. Sea scallops are the biggest and, therefore, the best for searing. When you buy sea scallops, look at the condition of the scallops. The scallops should be plump and translucent. Their surfaces should be dry to the touch, but the edges shouldn’t feel brown.
If you buy packaged scallops, only buy dry-packed scallops. Wet-packed scallops are stored in a preservative that the scallops absorb, and it makes them extremely hard to sear correctly.
If you buy frozen scallops, look for any signs of freezer burn, such as ice crystals or dry scallop edges. Don’t buy scallops with freezer burn or ones that look like they have been previously defrosted. When cooking frozen scallops, allow them to defrost in the fridge. This will also help to prevent them from being rubbery when cooked.
Because the cooking method determines if your scallops are rubbery or not, we will now discuss how to cook scallops perfectly to prevent them from being rubbery.
How To Cook Scallops So They Aren’t Rubbery
Cooking scallops correctly is essential to ensuring they aren’t rubbery. In addition to cooking the scallops perfectly, you can also soak the scallops in milk before cooking them. The milk helps to tenderize the scallops, preventing them from turning to rubber. This is how to prepare and cook scallops perfectly.
Step 1: Rinse And Clean The Scallops
When you are ready to cook your scallops, take them out of the fridge and rinse them with cold water. Ensure there isn’t any sand stuck to the scallops and check that all the foot muscles are removed from the scallops.
These muscles are on the side of the scallop and connect the scallop to its shell. While edible, they are tough and tasteless. To remove the foot muscles, pinch and pull them away from the scallop. The foot muscles can also cause the scallops to become rubbery. Therefore, removing them is essential to ensuring the scallops are tender.
Step 2: Soak The Scallops In Milk
Frozen scallops or scallops that have been harvested a few days before cooking are more prone to being rubbery when cooked. Therefore, these scallops should be soaked in milk before cooking them. The calcium and lactic acid in the milk breaks down the protein fibers in the scallops, tenderizing them and helping to prevent them from becoming rubbery.
If you have frozen scallops or scallops that are a couple of days old, you can place the scallops in a bowl and cover them with milk. Then, put them in the fridge for about an hour. Remove the scallops from the milk after one hour and place them on a tray.
Step 3: Dry And Season The Scallops
Once the scallops are done soaking in the milk, remove them from the bowl and place them between two paper towels to dry. Dry scallops are crucial to ensuring a good sear and golden surface. This is also why you should only buy dry-packed scallops. Scallops sold in a solution have too much moisture, and you will have a hard time getting these scallops caramelized.
Leave the scallops between two paper towels for about ten minutes. If the scallops have a lot of moisture, sprinkle them with salt and let them sit for a while. Adding salt will also help to draw out some of the excess moisture, helping the scallops cook faster. Then, season the scallops with salt, pepper, and any other seasoning you want to use.
Step 4: Sear The Scallops
Place a cast-iron or non-stick pan on medium-high heat and add a bit of oil or butter to the pan. When the pan reaches the smoking point, place the scallops in a single layer in the pan. Leave them untouched for two or three minutes before flipping them over. It is crucial that you don’t touch the scallops while they are in the pan, as the aim is to get a good caramelization on the surface.
Once turned, cook them for another two to three minutes on the other side. Then, serve them immediately while they are still hot. If you are unsure about the doneness of the scallops, check the color of the sides of the scallop.
When protein cooks, it will change from translucent to opaque. Therefore, if the scallop sides are opaque, the scallops are done cooking. A bit of translucent scallop in the center is acceptable. Remember to remove the scallops from the pan before they are thoroughly cooked. The residual heat around the scallops will further cook them.
When it comes to scallops, undercooked is better than overcooked. Undercooked scallops still taste delicious, whereas overcooked scallops are tasteless and rubbery.
The key to preventing rubbery scallops is not to overcook them. Overcooked scallops will be dry and rubbery as the protein dries out and stiffens when cooked. Therefore, ensure the scallops are dry, and the pan is hot when adding them. Only sear the scallops for two or three minutes on each side to prevent them from becoming rubbery.