A scallop is considered a bivalve, meaning it once had two hinged shells connected by muscle. Remove the extra tissue if any on the side of the scallops by gently tearing it off with your fingers. Discard excess tissue.
If you've purchased dry scallops, skip this step. If you've purchased, wet scallops, place them in a large bowl. Pour in cold water, lemon juice, and salt. Allow the scallops to sit in this mixture for at least 30 minutes.
Next, line a large plate or baking sheet with a kitchen towel. Place your scallops on the surface of the towel. Set a second kitchen towel on top of your scallops. Gently press on the top towel to blot the excess liquid in the scallops. Allow the scallops to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, lightly coat a large cast-iron or stainless steel skillet with a higher smoke point oil. Avoid using oils with lower smoke points such as olive oil. Place the skillet over medium-high heat. Wait for the pan to become extremely hot!
Salt and pepper your scallops on both sides if they are dry-packed. If wet-packed, only pepper them. Add half of the scallops to the hot skillet, flat-side down. Allow them to cook for 1 1/2 minutes -2 minutes before flipping them. It's essential that the scallops are not flipped before this point so that they can form a crust. Using a pair of tongs, flip the scallops after 1 1/2 to 2 minutes and repeat on the opposite side. Cooked scallops should be both firm, and the centers opaque. Serve immediately!
Always ask your local seafood counter if you're unsure about the type of scallops you're purchasing. Dry scallops, or natural scallops are best for pan searing. See our article for more information.