If you've ever seen Come Dine With Me, you'll know that cooking scallops isn't an easy job.
As the more critical opponent will like to remind the camera: you really do need to get your timings right. So, as a result, we've tended to steer well clear of serving them as a starter. Toast is much easier to perfect.
However, it's time to overcome our phobia, so we spoke to Andy Rose, executive head chef at The Boisdale (www.theboisdale.co.uk), who gave us some expert tips on how to get them right.
1. Pat the scallops dry with paper towels.
2. Remove the adductor muscle (a tough & chewy little tab of meat) before seasoning them with sea salt. You may remove the orange roe, however I prefer to keep them on.
3. Heat a nonstick sauté pan over a high heat, and add a tablespoon of clarified butter and a tablespoon of olive oil. The oil/butter mixture needs to be very hot before you add the scallops — you should actually see just the tiniest bit of smoke.
4. Place the scallops flat-side down in the hot pan. Don't overcrowd the pan, or you'll lower the pan temperature, causing the scallops to be steamed rather than seared. Once you've placed the scallops in the pan, don’t move them around otherwise this will prevent the scallops from forming a nice brown caramelized crust.
5. Scallops can vary in size so exact timing can differ, generally 1-2 minutes in the first side, or sooner if a nice caramel colored crust forms on the underside.
6. Flip them over and cook for a further 30 seconds then remove from the heat.
7. Scallop can easily overcook; they should be slightly translucent in the center and still quite springy to the touch. Should you allow them to become firm or stiff, they are already overcooked.
8. Serve them straight away with the beautiful caramel-colored crust facing up with a simple rocket salad or piping hot mashed potatoes and great crispy bacon.