What are the best ideas for making scallop marinade?

Dried marjoram, which can be included in a scallop marinade.

Nothing is more delicious than grilled, broiled or sautéed scallops, unless they are scallops that have been gently kissed by the subtle flavors of the perfect scallop marinade. Both meaty scallops and their nail-sized cousins, the bay scallops, are naturally a little sweet and very tender. They respond brilliantly to the right combination of marinade flavors as long as those flavors aren’t overwhelming because scallops are delicate pieces that could easily get lost in stronger flavors. Some of the best ingredients for scallop marinade include lemon juice, tamari sauce or white wine base, with ginger and garlic, chopped fresh or dried herbs or other delights are added. With a few marinade wizard tricks, even a novice cook can produce scallops worth celebrating.

Cooking sherry, which is often used to marinate scallops.

The first thing to keep in mind is that a good scallop marinade can be simple or complex, but it should never marry too many disparate flavors. For example, while a small amount of mustard, a few drops of Worcestershire sauce, or even a light touch of chili sauce can all become successful marinade components, using all three will yield a marinade tough enough for a steak, but very bossy for the scallops’ shy personality. One way to decide what to include and what to leave out is to consider international cuisines and create a marinade using light flavors often found together.

Scallops in their shells.

The simplest scallop marinade can start with white wine and the juice of a fresh lime or two. A little chopped parsley, marjoram or basil will add a fragrant, fresh layer of flavor, and a little chopped garlic will deepen the flavor on the tongue. Adding a little olive oil or melted butter will coat the delicate sea babies as they cook, keeping the marinade inside.

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Fresh basil leaves are often used to season a scallop marinade.

For those who like Asian flavors, try a marinade that combines light tamari sauce with a squeeze of lemon juice and a teaspoon or two of good quality sesame oil. Adding a generous dollop of sherry to cooking will enhance the scallops’ natural sweetness. Garlic and ginger purified in a paste will quickly paint the scallops with a rich, spicy high note, and the smallest teaspoon of honey will whisper a sweet flavor.

Whatever the type of marinade, keeping a few rules in mind will produce juicy scallops that are bursting with flavor. Scallops are much more delicate than red meat or chicken and should not be marinated for longer than an hour, two at the most, or they will start to break down and become mushy. Mixing the marinade in a resealable freezer bag, to which the scallops are added, coats them evenly and means less cleanup. If a bowl is used, it should be glass rather than aluminum to avoid a chemical reaction with the citrus. The marinade should always be made in the refrigerator and under no circumstances should the rest of the marinade be reused.

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