Seared Sea Scallops in Bacon Fat with Sriracha Mayo

Sea scallops are a delectable ocean indulgence, but there is typically an overwhelming fear most mollusk-lovers experience at the mere inclination to cook them.  You don't have to settle for waiting only for those steakhouse special occasions to sink your teeth into some succulent scallops.  You can make them at home, and it's much easier than you think!  Oh and the icing on the proverbial cake?  There's bacon involved!

Seared Sea Scallops in Bacon Fat w/ Sriracha Mayo

-  1 pound U-10 sea scallops  (U-10 means about 10 giant scallops to a pound!)
-  3 tablespoons bacon fat (if you save bacon drippings like I do, this will be easy)
-  kosher salt, fine ground
-  black pepper, fine ground

For the Sriracha Mayo:

-  1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
-  2 tablespoons mayonnaise
-  1 tablespoon Sriracha sauce  (use a little less if you're not a heat fiend)

You can also find that Sriracha Mayo in my Shrimp Po'Boy recipe :)

Before we get cooking, there are a few rules to live by when it comes to scallops.  First, only buy "dry packed" scallops, meaning, they're not packed in any kind of water solution.  Scallops will soak up any moisture that it comes in contact with, so let's avoid a soggy scallop disaster.  Second, look for those pearly whites!  If the scallops you found aren't a beautiful shade of pearl, then on to the next one.  Finally, go fresh, not frozen, and yeah, it matters.

Preheat your favorite, large, heavy-bottom pan or skillet on medium-high heat (I prefer an old-fashioned cast iron skillet for searing).  Combine lemon juice, mayo and sriracha in a small bowl and set aside.  Pat your scallops dry, remove any remaining feet (the small muscle identical in appearance, but adhered to the side of a scallop), because these get tough and rubbery when cooked. Apply a pinch of fine ground salt and pepper to each side of each scallop, just before they hit the pan.  Once your pan is heated add your bacon fat.  Allow the bacon fat to heat up for about 30 seconds and add the scallops.  Cook the scallops 5 or 6 at a time only, to avoid cooling off your pan.  Cook on each side for a minute and a half on each side.  Much like a steak, let the scallops rest for a few minutes.  Serve your scallops with a smear of that zesty sriracha mayo, or you can put the sauce in a handy squeeze bottle to achieve the look in the above photo.  Maybe a little chopped parsley for garnish and color, but merely optional.

Just a handful of ingredients and a little know-how gets you that decadent dish without the extra dollar signs and smug waiter.  As long as you have access to some fresh seafood (and if you're in San Antonio, Groomer's is the number one seafood market in town), you can have it whenever you want!

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