Scallop and Fish are very delicate. To have them perfectly pan seared. There are a few tips.
Keep it dry
It is probably easier to cook fresh scallops and fresh fish, because fresh seafood is not as watery as seafood that’s previously frozen and defrosted. I love using frozen jumbo scallops from Costco because they have such great quality. But after defrosting them, I have to make sure that they are not wet. I use kitchen towel or paper towel to dry off all the moisture generated from defrosting. Every so often I thaw them the night before cooking them, try to pat dry them as much as possible after they are thawed, and wrap them in paper towel to absorb the rest of the moisture over night. If the seafood is not dry, the water content boils in the pan creating high-temperature steam, and you will end up steaming the seafood and it gets overcooked very quickly.
Dust with flour
After seasoning the seafood with salt and pepper, it should be dusted with all purpose flour, it will absorb more moisture from the seafood, and the layer of flour will help create a nice golden brown color when the seafood is pan fried. If you want to give it some extra crust to a piece of fish fllet, after dusting it with flour, dip it in egg wash (evenly beaten eggs), and dust it with an extra layer of Panko crumbs. You can add the crust all around the fish and fry it on all sides, or you can just do it on the one side where you want to be crispy and golden brown.
Cook with high heat
The frying pan has to be hot hot hot with a thin layer of oil. High temperature will cause the seafood protein to curl up quickly and denature, preventing the protein to bond with and stick to the pan. And you have to choose a type of oil that heats up quickly such as canola, peanut, sunflower seed, or butter. Olive oil has a lower boiling point so it’s probably not ideal for pan frying seafood. However, you can use olive oil to poach seafood, which is a neat technique in this post.