Trying to find the ultimate best way to cook sous vide scallops? Looking for some helpful tips and tricks as you perfect your own sous vide scallop recipe? Just looking for ways to learn how to even cook anything sous vide?
While sous vide cooking with a vacuum seal can be a bit intimidating to some beginners, it’s actually a great way to cook a variety of meat cuts and can result in some of the most delectable meals you’ve ever had. However, it takes some patience and time to perfect the sous vide method—and every meat type works differently with this technique.
Sous vide is a cooking technique that uses temperature controlled water—and time—to best cook a variety of fish and meat. By putting airtight plastic bags that contain meat and then lowering them into water-filled “baths,” many people are realizing that this method of cooking is becoming much more vital to their everyday cooking techniques than they thought. Whether it is scallops or roast beef, every meat has a different way to best cook it via sous vide.
If you’re looking for a way to cook sous vide scallops, we’ve collected some must-have tips and tricks to make your experience easier, better, and fun.
What temperature should you use?
For the most part, we’ve discovered that cooking scallops, in the sous vide method, works best at about 123 degrees Fahrenheit. This is not the same for all sous vide seafood!
Of course, some may disagree, depending on their own time frame of cooking in the water bath. For this article and this purpose, we’ll be focusing on using the 123-degree temperature.
If you’re looking for a starting place, or are a beginner at cooking sous vide scallops, follow our method and cook at 123 degrees Fahrenheit until you’re more comfortable to experiment and find out what works best for you.
Season prior to cooking sous vide
One of the most common mistakes some beginners take is when they season the meat. When seasoning scallops, and really any other meat you’re cooking sous vide, we highly recommend seasoning prior to putting in the water bath.
Even if it’s just using salt and pepper, this makes all the difference. You can add more seasoning if you’re going to sear your scallops post water bath, but always add just a bit of salt and pepper before you do anything.
If you’re looking to add more seasoning to your scallops, you can add some seasoning or spices to the plastic bag that you will be putting your scallops in. Whether this is parsley, thyme, or butter, just make sure everything is evened out and not clumped together in the plastic bag.
Fish cooks faster than other meat
If you’re looking at certain sous vide scallop recipes and are a bit amazed at the short time they need to be in the water bath, let me explain.
Certain people like their beef to be in the water bath for hours and hours (sometimes even 24 hours or more) while fish don’t need this added time. Fish cook faster in the water bath than meat like beef does.
Therefore, you really only need to keep your scallops in the water bath for about 30 minutes at a temperature of 123 degrees Fahrenheit. Any more time and your scallops may lose some flavor.
Don’t be scared when you see only 30 to 45 minutes when cooking fish like scallops. Trust us, they still turn out okay! Actually, they turn out delicious!
Always keep your scallops in a single layer in your plastic bag
We repeat: do not double layer your scallops in the plastic bag that you will put in the water bath—even if this means having to add more bags with more scallops. If you double layer,or clump a whole bunch of scallops together in one plastic bag, the scallops won’t cook correctly.
Plus, it can be hard to make sure all the air is out of the plastic bag when you have a ton of scallops in one bag. Therefore, just stick to one layer of scallops for every single bag.
You can add more seasoning and flavor to your plastic bag
If you want more flavor than the original salt and pepper, you can always add more seasoning or spices to the plastic bag your scallops are in prior to the water bath.
Just like we mentioned before when talking about the single layer the scallops need to be in, make sure the seasoning or added spices in the plastic bag don’t clump together. If they do, this could ruin the way your scallops taste.
Make sure there is NO air in your plastic bags
This is very important. If there is air in the plastic bags that you lower into the water bath, the whole experience and process will be ruined. Make sure that your bags are airtight, and make sure that they are sealed so that no water will somehow get into them.
You can use regular freezer plastic bags that you have in your pantry if you want. If you’re nervous or can’t seem to get all of the air out of these freezer bags, we recommend you use vacuum sealed bags for the best experience.
Make sure to blot away excess water or residue after the water bath
Sometimes, people overlook this step—and they really shouldn’t.
After removing your scallops from the water bath, take them out of the plastic bag carefully and lay them on some paper towels. There, blot away some of the excess water or residue from the scallops to make for a better flavor, taste, and experience as you prepare to sear them in butter.
For the best flavor, sear with butter
After the water bath, you still need to sear your scallops. For the best, most delectable flavor, we recommend keeping the whole process as simple as possible.
That means just searing the scallops with some heated butter in a skillet over medium to medium-high heat.
After searing until golden brown on both sides, which should take just about 40 seconds in total, serve immediately for best results. Oh – and if these simple techniques are blowing your mind, check out more tips for newbie sous vide here.
Interested in trying more sous vide techniques at home? Gourmia makes a really lovely sous vide water oven cooker. It holds 9 quarts, so you can actually make multiple meals at once! Here's our full list of inexpensive water baths we've reviewed here.