Pan-Seared Scallops in Ginger Butter Sauce
Cooking Video Editing

Pan-Seared Scallops in Ginger Butter Sauce

Ryan Leary

Those old cookbooks laying around the house may have some gems hidden within them. I'm a big seafood fan and these scallops were better than any I've had in a restaurant. The ginger BUTTER sauce is delicious and rich. After enjoying it with the scallops, I basically just found excuses to eat more of it (pour over white rice) until it was gone.

Everything you need to know


No need to write this one out. My dad found it in an old cookbook laying around the house, and it's available online with some useful tips.


Pulling this all together takes a bit of work. Here's some tips from my first time making them:

  • A spoon is a GREAT way to peel ginger.
  • Don't get ginger in your eye.
  • It's a lot of butter. Don't be scared.
  • When searing the scallops add the butter AFTER browning the scallops on one side. This is noted in the recipe, but I messed that up and was really battling getting nicely browned scallops that weren't burning.
  • The butter bath over the scallops makes them incredible, so don't just pan sear.
  • Make sure to dry your dry scallops in a kitchen/paper towel before cooking. This helps ensure a beautiful golden sear.
  • Buy the best scallops you can. I did some research to learn how to buy good scallops. Here's my notes:

Buying high quality scallops

Firm. Dry. U10. Saltwater.

The looks

Firm and Dry. Do NOT bother with wet scallops. They're pumped full of an additive, sodium tripolyphosphate, which has them retain water (up to 30% of their own weight!) and gives them a longer shelf-life. Good scallops are made of 80% or more of MEAT. The additive also makes them look milky white and plump. Older dad-bod scallops that have been bathing in chemicals? Pass.

It gets worse. When you cook wet scallops they let out some "water" that's got the additives. Now you have a funky taste and scallops that steamed more than seared. The linked recipe gives a technique to mask the flavor, but it remains noticeable.

I looked for dry scallops that stood tall and strong. The good ones should have a cream color, can also appear beige, or even orangeish or pinkish (lady scallops). If your scallops look wet, soft, white, and/or shiny it's time to make something else for dinner.

U10 Insider's secret code to say I should get 10 scallops for a pound. These are the big boys and girls and take 3-5 minutes to cook. I just thought about ones I've had at restaurants and asked for that. U20 and U30 are much smaller.

The smell

Saltwater The scallops should smell like the ocean, that's where they're from. That fresh beach salty/briney scent with a hint of seaweed. If they smell fishy, they're probably old. If they don't smell like the ocean, they probably aren't from the ocean, indicating they are processed.

You don't have to live near the ocean to get high quality seafood. I get mine from Morgan's Lobster Shack in Truckee, CA. Nowhere close to the ocean, and the big lake nearby isn't know for scallops. Morgan's gets their seafood from regular flights into Reno, NV and is always high quality.

The video

I made this video before some of the most recent ones and learned a ton in the filming process how difficult filming and cooking in the kitchen with poor lighting solo can be. Extra helpful was the feedback a number of friends gave on a draft I shared. The youtube video above is the draft, with one minor audio fix.

Feedback and Notes

  • [Content] Most enjoyed the high energy and excitement and that it was just an instructional video. Side comments and drinking along the way made it more fun to watch. Ginger in my eye. More personality makes the video more engaging. People aren't actually there for the food only.
  • [Content] Shooting and cooking at the same time? Make it as simple as possible. The two angles to film the cooking required changing settings between them. What a pain. Add in filming broll at a slower framerate and I was just asking for more difficultly pulling all of this off on my own.
  • [Content] Explain more about what I'm doing or am looking for. Multiple people mentioned they wish I knew how I sourced the good scallops. More people cared about the how and why of the recipe rather than the exact recipe specifics.
  • [Editing] Consider adding some more text for the recipe. Or other graphics. Thoughout.
  • [Content] Pay attention to what I say. I lost count of how many times I said "first things first" reviewing the clips, and a number of them ended up in the video above. I did it a couple times in this much older video too! That's a lame catchphrase, so a habit to break. This was especially difficult to remember when taking lots of small clips and constantly restarting filming.
  • [Content+ Editing] Audio really matters - There was one clip where I was smashing garlic where I forgot to turn off the music in the background. I left it in, thinking the obvious audio pop wouldn't that important. EVERYONE I sent the video mentioned that first. It's fixed now, copying some audio from a separate video where I was smashing something with a knife.
  • [Content] Camera angles were weird. I wanted multiple angles and the ability to move quickly between the two and not mess with lighting. A proper lighting setup would make this SO much easier.
  • [Content + Editing] Broll is super appreciated. There should have been more.

It's fun to see improvement on a number of these areas in the couple videos I've made since.