The first thing you need to do is to dry your scallops off. Wet scallops won’t get that nice brown crust (caramelization). Once they’re dry you should put some oil on them and something to give them a little more flavour. I like olive oil, salt, pepper and powdered garlic.
Now the scallops are ready for the pan. Get your pan heated up to about medium-high temperature. When you put the scallops in the pan be careful not to put too many in at once. Crowding the pan causes the temperature to go down really fast and liquid will come out and collect in the pan. At that point you’re boiling scallops not searing them. Having lots of room around each scallop gives the water room to evaporate and the scallops will brown up nicely. If you’ve got lots of scallops you can sear them in batches.
Another good tip when searing scallops… once you put them in the pan… just let them sit for a while. Resist the temptation to move them all over the pan. The caramelization will build up nicer if they sit in one spot. When you think they’ve got enough colour on the first side flip ‘m over and get them happy on the other side.
If your scallops are big (like theses tasty diver scallops) you won’t cook them all the way through with searing. That’s okay. I usually take them off the heat and put them back in the pan once I’ve made a sauce. Doing them this way gives you the wonderful colour and flavour that searing provides and they won’t get all dried out and chewy because they’re overcooked.