The Simple Art Of Cooking: Sauteed Sea Scallops

Here on the East End of Long Island we are blessed with a staggering variety of seasonal fish from our local fish markets offering a seemingly endless bounty of flounder, sea bass, tuna, weakfish, bluefish, striped bass, scallops, mussels, clams and more. I don’t think there is a better time or place than right now to enjoy cooking and eating fish. It is light food for these warmer days of summer and simply makes good sense to cook fish at home.

All the fish for the recipes below are local and according to Jim Cornese of Cor-J Seafood in Hampton Bays the scallop boats just came in – so they’re as local as local can get!



Flounder, Grey sole, fluke or sea bass filets can be used for this simple baked fish recipe.

Serves 6

For the tomato sauce

2 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 large red onion, thinly sliced

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons capers

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

1 small whole dried hot pepper, seeds remove and finely chopped or pepper flakes

For the fish:

2 pounds fresh fish filets, flounder, fluke or sea bass.

1. Plunge tomatoes into boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds depending on size. Slip of skins with the tip of a knife. Cut in half crosswise; hold in palm of hand and squeeze out seeds. Dice.

2. Heat oil in a medium saucepan and add the onions. Sauté for a few minutes until onions are translucent then add the chopped garlic, cook, stirring for a few seconds and add the tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper to taste and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Add the capers, oregano and dried pepper. Stir to mix and remove from heat. Taste to adjust seasoning as necessary. Can be prepared ahead to this point.

Preheat oven to 400°F.

3. When ready to serve cover the bottom of a shallow non-reactive baking dish, (Pyrex or ceramic) with a little sauce.  Arrange fish filets on the sauce in one layer and pour over remaining sauce. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes depending on thickness of fish. Serve with crusty bread and a simple green salad.



Weakfish, also known as sea trout, lends itself well to this classic preparation with slivered almond garnish, which is an option.

Serves 4

2 large weakfish fillets, about 1 1/2 pounds

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

4 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley

1/4 cup slivered almonds, lightly toasted (optional)

1. Cut fillets into 4-inch square pieces; rinse and pat dry with paper towel.

2. Melt 1 tablespoon butter with 1 tablespoon oil in a large non-stick skillet until hot. Meanwhile coat the fish with flour on both sides and season with salt and pepper. Sauté 3 or 4 pieces at a time until well browned, about 3 minutes on each side; do not crowd the pan and transfer to a side dish. Add remaining butter and oil and when hot cook the remaining pieces as above. Transfer fish to a platter, one layer deep, as they are done.

3. Stir lemon juice and parsley into the pan drippings and stir to mix over medium heat. Pour sauce over the fillets and top with slivered almonds. Serve at once with fresh cooked greens such as spinach or Swiss chard



Scallops sizzle and brown quickly when cooked in hot fat otherwise they lose their natural juices.

Serves 4 as first course or 2 as an entrée

3/4 pound sea scallops

1/3 cup panko bread crumbs

Coarse (kosher) salt and freshly ground pepper

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley

1. Remove the small tough muscle on the sides of the scallops, rinse and pat dry with paper towel. Place panko crumbs on a flat dish and season with salt, pepper and paprika. Dredge scallops in the seasoned crumbs and set aside.

2. Heat butter and oil in a large non-stick skillet. Put the scallops into the pan in one layer. Sauté in two batches if necessary and do not crowd the pan or they will lose moisture as they cook.

3. Depending on size of scallop, sauté about 1 to 1 1/2 minutes on one side, turn and cook other side for about 1 to 1 1/2 minutes longer. It’s better to undercook scallops slightly or they will shrink and toughen. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste, lemon juice and parsley and serve immediately.

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