If you're looking to cook up an elegant, beautiful, restaurant-quality seafood dinner, try this recipe for seared scallops with corn and longganisa.
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One of my favorite "fancy" food ingredients to make special occasion meals at home is scallops.
Growing up, I always thought of scallops as being these exotic, sophisticated ingredients. They were served at fancy restaurants and came with high price tags.
So when I learned how much more affordable, and especially how EASY scallops are to cook at home, I was so excited!
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Now, if you're looking for a fast, 30-minute meal, try my Seared Scallops with Pasta recipe. Or if you want a delicious scallops recipe that's even faster, try my One-Pan New Orleans-Style BBQ Shrimp and Scallops.
This Seared Scallops with Corn and Longganisa recipe can be made in under an hour, with the help of two skillets. First, let's make sure you've got the right ingredients.
Bay Scallops vs Sea Scallops
This recipe calls for sea scallops, which can be up to three times larger than bay scallops. Because of the size difference, sea scallops and bay scallops also benefit from different cooking techniques. Pan-searing is great for the larger sea scallops, whereas sautéing or poaching works well for the smaller bay scallops.
There is also a slight difference in taste and texture between the two scallops. Bay scallops have a slightly sweeter taste to them, and are tender and soft. Sea scallops have some sweetness to them, but are heartier, chewier in texture. Both are absolutely delicious!
While sea scallops are best for this recipe, you can substitute bay scallops if that's what you have. Just be sure to watch them more carefully and lower the cooking times than what is recommended in the recipe. Because they are much smaller, bay scallops will cook more quickly.
By the way, if you see any scallops labeled as diver scallops, those are sea scallops. You can totally use diver scallops in this recipe. The only difference is that they have been hand-harvested, which is much more labor-intensive, and hence, they tend to cost more.
What is Longganisa?
Longganisa, also spelled longanisa, is a sweet Filipino sausage. It usually comes in packages of 9 or 12. You can find longganisa at most Asian markets and in some general grocery stores around the US.
Growing up, we usually made Filipino garlic fried rice with longganisa and fried eggs. Such a classic Filipino breakfast! It's great to use in pastas, rice, and soups. Because it's sweet and not spicy, I've found it's a wonderful protein to use in family-friendly dishes.
What can I use as a substitute for Longganisa?
If you can't find longganisa where you live, you can substitute almost any type of sausage, depending on the dish you are cooking. Use Italian sausage, sweet Chorizo, ground pork, or even a sweet salami as a substitute in this particular seared scallops with corn recipe.
Ok. Let's get cooking!
Cook the corn and longganisa
Exact measurements and detailed instructions can be found in the printable recipe card at the bottom of this post!
Start by cutting the kernels from the corn cobs into a large bowl. Discard the cobs and set the bowl of kernels aside.
In a cast iron skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the extra-virgin olive oil over medium heat.
Add the longganisa and cook through, stirring to cook evenly.
Stir in the garlic, salt, and 1 more tablespoon of olive oil and cook, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is soft.
Add the corn kernels and cook until bright yellow and softened, stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat and allow to cool down slightly for about 5 minutes. Then start on the scallops.
How to Sear Scallops
Pan-searing scallops is pretty easy. However, there are a few tips to help achieve that gorgeous classic brown sear on succulent scallops:
You can use other type of pans, but cast iron skillets heat more evenly and retain heat well compared to other pans. That all helps you get a better sear on both sides.
When you take the scallops out of the packaging, rinse them with cold water briefly. Then blot out the moisture with a paper towel before seasoning. Removing this excess moisture helps them sear beautifully.
After seasoning your scallops, heat your cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add your oil to the pan and let it heat up. I use olive oil (read this article if you are concerned about olive oil's smoke point) but you can use grapeseed oil or coconut oil. To test if the pan is ready, you can spritz or sprinkle a tiny bit of water onto the pan. If it evaporates right away, that means the pan is hot enough and ready for the scallops. The first scallop should sizzle when it hits the pan; if it doesn't, remove it and wait another minute or two for the pan to heat up more.
Place scallops an inch or more apart from each other in a single layer on the pan. You may need to work in batches depending on how many you are cooking. Overcrowding the pan can result in the scallops taking longer to cook, and cooking unevenly, as there are more scallops using up the heat of the pan.
Resist the urge to keep flipping scallops back and forth. Allow the first side to achieve a nice brown coating on the bottom, which takes two to three minutes, before flipping them over. When the first side is done, the scallops should release fairly easily from the pan. If they are still sticking to the pan, leave them for another minute or so until they release easily. Then flip and sear scallops on the other side for another two to three minutes.
Finish the dish
While the scallops are searing, add the half and half, cilantro, and lime juice to the other pan with the corn mixture. Stir to combine.
Then finish searing the scallops. Divide the longganisa and corn mixture between four large bowls or plates. Top with scallops. Serve immediately.
Wine that pairs well with scallops
The last time I made this recipe, we enjoyed the seared scallops with corn and longganisa with a Brooks Winery Melon de Bourgogne. The tropical notes and refreshing acidity make it a lovely pairing for this dish.
It's best to eat scallops right after they are cooked. However, you can store leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate for one more day. After that, I'm afraid they become too rubbery and fishy smelling.
To reheat this dish: it's best to reheat in a skillet over medium heat for three to four minutes. You can also microwave leftovers in a shallow bowl for one minute, and then in 30-second increments if it needs more time to warm up. Watch the scallops carefully, as reheating them for too long will result in rubbery sad scallops.
More Filipino Recipes
Seared Scallops with Longganisa and Corn
- Cast Iron Skillet
- 3 ears of corn, husked
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 ounces longganisa sausage, removed from casings and chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup half and half
- ⅓ cup chopped cilantro, plus extra for garnish
- 12-15 large sea scallops (about 1 pound), patted dry
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (about the juice from one lime)
- 4 lime wedges
- Cut the kernels from the corn cobs into a large bowl. Discard the cobs and set the bowl of kernels aside.
- In a cast iron skillet or large saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of the extra-virgin olive oil over medium heat. Add the longganisa and cook through, about 2 minutes, stirring to cook evenly. Stir in the garlic, salt, and 1 more tablespoon of olive oil and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft, about 2 minutes. Add the corn kernels and cook until bright yellow and softened, stirring occasionally, about 5 to 7 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow to cool down slightly for about 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, sear the scallops. In a separate skillet or pan, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil is heated, add the scallops and allow to cool on one side for about 3 minutes.
- While the scallops are searing on one side, add the half and half, cilantro, and lime juice to the other pan with the corn mixture. Stir to combine.
- Flip the scallops over and cook on the remaining side for another 3 to 4 minutes, until both sides have a nice golden brown sear. Turn off the heat.
- Spoon corn mixture divided evenly into four bowls. Top each with scallops. Serve with a lime wedge and garnish with extra chopped cilantro.