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This Grapefruit Brown Butter Seared Scallops is Quick and Luxurious

Grapefruit Brown Butter Scallops

Total time:20 minutes


Total time:20 minutes


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One of our most valuable resources is our attention. That’s why we “pay” attention, as Arthur Miller wrote — it’s expensive and at the expense of our time. But it’s a crucial ingredient in any kitchen, and an underlying theme in Andy Baraghani’s new cookbook, ‘The Cook You Want to Be’.

I love Baraghani’s approach to cooking, which emphasizes using your intuition and senses, feeling the food in your hands, and tasting it as you go – and not just because many of his go-to techniques and flavor combinations are clearly influenced by his Iranian palate. (Hello to all fresh lemons and herbs!)

Of the many recipes in her book that caught my eye, the one I think we should make tonight is Grapefruit Brown Butter Scallops. It’s a simple dish that takes about 20 minutes to prepare, but will require your full attention.

This is because scallops take very little time to cook and you really don’t want to overcook them lest they turn into rubbery rounds.

Attention is also warranted, as high-quality dry-packed* scallops don’t come cheap. While many of us are looking for ways to squeeze our budgets, scallops can seem like a luxury. But it is also a time of great turmoil and deep sadness. When things seem so strange, so painful, I like to spend a little more – money and attention – on myself. Maybe you too?

“Scallops are one of those foods that I’ve always considered fancy but never trendy,” Baraghani told me over the phone. “When I feel like I can afford them, I order them from a restaurant – that’s the move. It’s luxurious.

For this dish, you’ll mop up 16 large scallops and sear them in a hot skillet. Baraghani asks you to put the scallops in the pan clockwise. It’s a trick he learned during his years working at restaurants, including Estela in New York and Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California. This makes it easier to remember which one you put in first, and therefore which should be returned first.

Simply seared, they create a base, or those tasty golden bits of protein and natural sugars stuck to the bottom of the pan. Start to deglaze the pan by adding a little butter which you will let melt and then brown. You have to watch it all the time, to make sure you don’t burn it. Then it’s time to get punchy.

“The scallops are just begging to be paired with acid,” Baraghani told me, “and the grapefruit is one of the more complex acids, where it has both that sweet acidity and that bitterness. “

Stir in a little fresh grapefruit juice. As the citrus juice diminishes, its bitterness mellows. Within minutes, the sauce will turn silky and shiny – a negligee, barely there but utterly bewitching, sheer and sexy.

Plate the scallops, drizzling the sauce over and around each one. Then garnish the dish with sliced ​​radishes and a pinch of chilli flakes. “I love buttered radishes, so radishes in citrus butter sauce?” Easy,” says Baraghani.

*NOTE: Dry-packed scallops are superior to salt-packed scallops because they are generally fresher and have not been treated with chemicals to make them plumper. Wet-packed scallops don’t brown as well in the pan and tend to release a lot of liquid as they cook.

Grapefruit Brown Butter Scallops

  • Can’t find scallops near you? >> Try this recipe with trout, sea bass or salmon.
  • Grapefruit juice is especially good here >> but any citrus juice works instead, as pomegranate juice would.
  • Want to skip the butter? >> Try this with coconut oil. It won’t brown, but it will melt and emulsify just the same.

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  • 16 to 20 dry-packed sea scallops (12 to 16 ounces total; see NOTE)
  • Fine salt
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 6 tablespoons (3 ounces) unsalted butter, cubed
  • 3/4 cup fresh grapefruit juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated grapefruit zest
  • 2 small radishes, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon sweet pepper flakes (Aleppo type)
  • Flaky sea salt, for serving (optional)

Remove the side muscle from each scallop by pulling it with your thumb and fingers. Dry each scallop and season lightly with salt.

In a large stainless steel skillet over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil until you see a wisp of smoke. Using tongs, arrange the scallops around the skillet in a clockwise direction, starting at 12 o’clock. Lightly press each one, but don’t move them. After 2 to 4 minutes — depending on the size of the scallops — you should see the edges turn nicely browned. Flip the scallops to brown the other side, an additional 2 to 3 minutes.

Transfer the scallops to a platter or divide among 4 plates and keep warm. Pour off the excess oil and allow the pan to cool for 1 minute.

Return the skillet to medium heat and add the butter, letting it melt. Using a wooden spoon, scrape up any brown bits that remain after searing the scallops. (This will add more flavor to the sauce.) The butter will foam, then after about 1 minute it will start to smell toasty and will be browned.

Add the grapefruit juice — being careful as it may splash a little — and cook, whisking, until the sauce reduces and thickens, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the grapefruit zest. Taste and season the sauce with salt, if desired.

Pour the sauce over the scallops and scatter the radish slices on top. Sprinkle with chili flakes, flaky sea salt if using, and drizzle with a little olive oil.

Per serving (4 scallops and 1/4 cup sauce)

Calories: 336; Total fat: 28g; Saturated fat: 12g; Cholesterol: 72mg; Sodium: 518mg; Carbohydrates: 8g; Dietary fiber: 0g; Sugar: 0g; Protein: 14g.

This analysis is an estimate based on the available ingredients and this preparation. It should not replace the advice of a dietitian or nutritionist.

Adapted from “The Cook You Want to Be” by Andy Baraghani (Penguin Random House, 2022).

Tested by G. Daniela Galarza; questions by e-mail to

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Monday: Green tahini salad

Tuesday: Ravioli and Asparagus with Broth of Grilled Almonds

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