Soy-Butter Basted Maine Sea Scallops

Dec 23, 2020

The Maine scallop season is here, and we’ve stepped up our consumption of these rich, succulent bivalves. As excellent source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and Vitamin B12, Maine scallops are also an integral part of our environmentally -friendly fishing industry.

Scallops have been enjoyed by New Englanders for generations: baked, sautéed, fried, wrapped in bacon, ceviche, in casseroles and stews; nothing beats the luxurious flavor of a really fresh, scallops. One of the many benefits of living in a fishing community is access to seafood literally right off the boat. We purchase scallops by the gallon, clean and DE muscle them, freezing small packages to enjoy until the next season.

Although there are dozens of old favorite scallop recipes in my Maine cookbook collection, I’m always on the scout for something new. A featured recipe in the New York Times by Colu Henry caught my eye and tempted the palate. Henry writes that her inspiration came from a recipe found in “Donabe: Classic and Modern Japanese Clay Pot Cooking” by Naoka Takei Moore and Kyle Connaughton.

You don’t need a clay pot to prepare this dish, only a really good cast iron skillet or heavy fry pan. Like many Asian recipes, the timing of this dish is critical. Read and understand the recipe, and be sure to have all your ingredients prepped before starting.  Henry suggests using baby spinach; I used the last harvest of garden Swiss chard before the freeze came. Larger greens will work, just chop them before serving.

It takes about 30 minutes to get Soy-Butter Basted Maine Sea Scallops to the table. Set the table, start the rice in a cooker, preheat the oven, prep your ingredients, fire up the skillet and enjoy the rewards of Maine’s tenth most lucrative fishing industry.


Cheryl Wixson
Inspired by Colu Henry’s New York Times recipe
Servings 4


  • 1 pound Maine sea scallops patted dry
  • Sea salt and fresh pepper
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 garlic cloves thinly sliced
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 ½ pounds greens (baby are nice and tender, or chop larger ones)
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • Lime wedges for serving
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced scallion greens
  • sesame seeds for garnish


  • Assemble ingredients and tools. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.
  • Pat the scallops dry and season with sea salt and pepper.
  • Thinly slice the garlic cloves and set aside. Slice the scallion greens and set aside.
  • Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a 12-inch cast iron skillet until it starts to shimmer. Add the scallops and cook for 2 – 3 minutes, until they start to get brown and crusty on the bottom.
  • Flip the scallops. Add the butter and soy sauce to the skillet. Using a spoon, drizzle the sauce over the tops of the scallops as they finish cooking, about 2 minutes.
  • Remove the scallops to an ovenproof plate.
  • Pour the sauce over, and keep the scallops warm in the oven.
  • Return the skillet to the stove over medium heat. Add 1-tablespoon canola oil, garlic slices and red pepper flakes. Cook until the garlic is pale golden, adding more oil if needed. Add the greens, season with salt, add some water, and cook until the greens are done.
  • To serve, arrange the scallops on top of the wilted greens, pour any remaining sauce over the top. Drizzle with sesame oil, squeeze some lime wedges and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Cheryl's Notes

Makes four servings.
Nutritional analysis per serving: 227 calories, 18 grams protein, 16 grams carbohydrates, 11 grams fat, 700 mg. sodium, 5 grams fiber

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