An uncomplicated recipe for juicy, tender scallops baked with homemade garlic herb butter in their own shells. Learn how to make this impressive appetizer, perfect for BBQ's, dinner with friends or a special occasion.
Scallops are a delicacy around the world and these are one of my favourite seafood to eat and cook with. We are so fortunate to be living by the sea, we have fresh scallops available most of the year. Here in Australia, scallops are best during the colder months (July to September) however they are still harvested during the warmer months in colder parts like Tasmania.
Scallops are versatile and a real joy to prepare! Having worked in fine dining restaurants I have always had scallops on the menu whenever possible. Mostly pan seared or raw (one time I even transformed them into tiny sausages) presented with fancy garnishes, they were always an easy hot sell!
Nowadays, I look at these scallops differently, I try not to overcomplicate the dish and keep their delicate sweet, nutty flavour intact. Sometimes even a squeeze of lemon and pinch of sea salt is just enough! Baked scallops with garlic butter is one of those dishes, easy to prepare but so delicious.
HOW TO PREPARE FRESH SCALLOPS FOR COOKING
Scallops can be found mostly at fish markets or at your local fish monger. They come in the shell or in half shells when already cleaned. I find Scallops are more affordable in Australia compared to Europe or the US. They vary in sizes and even though they are best fresh, they make an excellent frozen product.
Since we are cooking scallops in their shells today, we bought whole Scallops for this recipe. To save time cleaning them, you can also buy Scallops in half shells, they are equally good!
To make sure you are purchasing good quality Scallops, pick them up and look at them closely. Tap them lightly on the shell, If they are fresh, they will close slightly. Furthermore, scallops should always smell sweet, seaweed like, reminding you of the fresh ocean, never should they smell fishy.
HOW TO SHUCK AND CLEAN A SCALLOP
To open scallops you need a simple, blunt knife with a thin blade and a rounded tip (a butter knife works well). Take the scallop in your hand and insert the knife between the two halves of the shell close to the hinge.
Now move your knife around the scallop until the shell pops open. Run your knife under the scallop along the inside of the shell to remove it completely.
This is only half the battle won! Now comes the messy part! You need to clean and remove the membrane plus the roe from the scallop. This is best done with your fingers if you don't mind getting your hands a little dirty.
But If getting mucky is not your thing, then this step can be done under running cold water. Just be gentle to avoid tearing the scallop meat.
With a bit of practice you can pull off the membrane around the scallop easily once you get your finger in between.
When you are left with the scallop meat, check for any sand. Rinse them under cold water if required and pat them dry.
HOW TO BAKE SCALLOPS IN THEIR SHELL
Scallops can be prepared in many ways but using their shell to cook them in, is my favourite especially when I buy fresh scallops. Not only is the shell ideal to hold a small amount of sauce but it makes for a beautiful presentation.
For this scallops baked in the shell recipe we are using a flavoured homemade garlic herb butter, Mediterranean style. Garlic butter and seafood are a match made in heaven. Here are the steps to make these delicious Scallops:
Firstly prepare the garlic butter
The garlic butter is made with just a few ingredients. Chopped garlic and parsley are mixed with butter and seasoned with salt, pepper and cayenne pepper. With our step by step recipe for How to make garlic and herb butter you will be ready to go in no time!
Next get your scallops ready
After you have cleaned the scallops, pat them dry and place them back in their shell. Lay the scallops out on a baking tray making sure they are placed in a way that they can't tilt.
Since we are serving the dish as an appetizer, we calculated 3 scallops per person. You can of course adjust this based on your numbers.
Slice the garlic butter into thin discs. Place one disc on each of the scallops.
AS A NOTE: This can be done well ahead of time. If you are entertaining the same evening, just cover the prepared tray with cling film and keep in the fridge. Take the tray out 10 minutes before cooking.
Baking scallops in the oven with garlic herb butter
Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees (350 F) set on upper and lower heat. Place the tray of scallops in the oven and cook for 3-4 minutes depending on your oven. The garlic butter will melt and start bubbling, which in turn will cook the scallops.
Scallops are best eaten under cooked, so stay close to the oven and check the doneness of the scallops after 2-3 minutes. They should be nice and soft to touch (just give them a quick poke with your finger to check!)
When the scallops are cooked, remove them from the oven and place them on a plate.
Cooking them in their shell is fast and it ensures the scallops stay hot for a while that's one reason why these make a great pass around. But these are best when served straight out of the oven!
AS A NOTE: Timing is key when you are making this scallop recipe as an entrée. They should be cooked at the very last minute when your guests are seated at the table.
Another way to cook scallops is on a BBQ. Here the heat comes from the bottom but the result is the same. The garlic butter will melt and start cooking the scallops. Depending on the size of the scallops, these should be ready in 3 minutes.
Another great pairing is this recipe for scallops baked with miso & ginger butter, just as delicious.
WHERE CAN I FIND SCALLOP SHELLS?
If you want to make this recipe our way but bought frozen scallops or perhaps ones without the shell, don't worry! Just go online and buy scallop shells! I think nowadays there is nothing that you can't buy online😀
Here is where you can find them.
CAN I USE FROZEN OR FRESH SCALLOPS OUT OF THE SHELL TO MAKE THIS RECIPE?
Yes you can. If you are using scallops that are out of the shell, I recommend pan frying them this way:
- Heat a pan with olive oil on high heat
- Season the scallops with salt
- Add one scallop first to make sure the pan is nice and hot. The scallop should sizzle at contact. If not, wait a few seconds. Add the other scallops making sure they are spaced out in the pan
- Cook the scallops on one side for 2 minutes before flipping them to the other side
- Add Garlic butter once you have flipped the scallops (we recommend using approx. 100gm of garlic butter to make 12 scallops but of course cook them in batches)
- Cook for 2 minutes. The scallops should be opaque, taken on a brown colour and with roasting flavours.
- Check for doneness. They should feel firm on the outside but soft inside
- Serve immediately while they are still warm
SEAFOOD RECIPES FOR YOU TO TRY
Are you looking for more recipes like scallops baked in the shell with garlic herb butter? Planning a special meal to treat your family to or perhaps planning a dinner party? Here are some of our favourite seafood recipes that will inspire you in the kitchen:
-Whole fish cooked in a salt crust with salsa verde
-Beet cured salmon gravelax with dill mustard sauce
-Poached prawns in a chilled avocado and apple sauce
-Whole baked barramundi with sauce vierge
-Mushroom risotto with pan seared scallops
-Hamachi crudo with coriander and chilli
If you ask me, you should try all these recipes one by one! But let's be realistic...if you try any one of these recipes, we would love to hear your thoughts so please do leave us a comment and watch the scallop story here!
Scallops Baked in the Shell with Garlic Butter
- 12 scallops with shell
- 200 g unsalted butter at room temperature
- ½ bunch parsley picked
- 3 medium garlic cloves peeled
- 1 lemon
- 1 pinch of cayenne pepper
- salt and pepper to taste
for the garlic butter
- cut the butter in cubes and place in a bowl
- chop the garlic by hand or alternatively use a garlic press or food processor.
- chop the parsley finely.
- Add the garlic and parsley and combine well with the butter.
- Grate the zest of 1 lemon into the butter and season with cayenne pepper, salt and pepper.
- Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.
- Roll into two cylinder shaped logs, wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for atleast 2hrs before slicing.
for preparing the scallops
- If you are using fresh scallops hold the scallop in your hand and insert the knife between the two halves of the shell close to the hinge.
- Now move your knife around the scallop until the shell pops open. Run your knife under the scallop along the inside of the shell to remove it completely.
- Using your fingers gently remove the membrane and roe from the scallop.
- Wash the scallop under cold running water to remove any sand and pat dry with a kitchen towel.
for cooking the scallops
- Pre-heat the oven to 200°C (350°F) set at upper and lower heat.
- slice the garlic butter into thin round discs.
- Add the scallops back in their shell and place on a baking tray making sure they don't tilt.
- Place a slice of the garlic butter on each scallop.
- Cook the scallop in the oven for 3-4 minutes. The butter should be melted and bubbling cooking the scallops lightly.
- Present the scallops in their shell on a plate and serve immediately. The recipe is for 3 scallops per person.