Scallops with Brown Butter and Basil

Last night’s dinner is one of the best dinners we have had on this journey. We stumbled across an old Cooking Light recipe for scallops in lemon basil butter, but we changed it up, made it even lighter, and added depth using brown butter.

How do you know a good scallop when you see one?

Want to know how to shop for good scallops? The most important thing to know is the difference between “wet” and “dry” scallops. “Wet” scallops are chemically soaked with sodium tripolyphosphate (STP) to preserve them. They will be bright white in color, and glossy looking. STP is added to plump them up and increase their size and weight. “Wet” scallops will shrink when cooked and have a soapy aftertaste. If you are concerned about the scallops you see at your grocery store, ask the vendor if they are wet or dry. Dry scallops are in their natural state. They will either be gray/beige, (male) or pink/orange (female) in color. Scallops should never smell fishy. They should smell sea fresh! Click the link here to learn more about scallops.

Scallops are naturally low in calories. A 3.5 ounce serving is only 87 calories! The sodium count naturally compares to the calorie count; the sodium in a 87 calorie serving of scallops equals 87mg of sodium.

This sauce could top chicken, pork or beef, or any kind of seafood. Remember the poached salmon recipe from March? It would be fantastic on that! Sprinkle asparagus with 1 tsp. olive oil, and dusted with whole wheat Panko bread crumbs, leftover lemon zest, and 1/4 tsp of parmesan. Sooooooo good! No photos while we made it, sorry!

Scallops with Brown Butter and Basil

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 2
Calories: 225kcal
"Dry" is the seafood industry term for natural scallops, which have not been treated with phosphates. Make sure to inquire if the scallops you purchase are dry scallops.
Print Recipe


  • 8 large dry scallops
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 Tbsp water
  • ½ tsp cornstarch
  • ¾ cup dry white wine
  • 2 Tbsp fresh, chopped basil
  • black pepper


  • Zest ¼ tsp lemon. Then squeeze the lemon and reserve the juice.
  • Pat the scallops with a paper towel to absorb any moisture.
  • Cut the butter into 3 equal pieces.
  • Melt one piece of butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the scallops and cook 3-4 minutes per side. Remove scallops from pan and keep warm.
  • Add the other two pieces of butter to a second, clean skillet. Over medium heat, swirl the pan slightly. The butter will begin to foam, and then turn golden brown. When collecting the browned butter from the pan, leave the little bits of milk solids behind. Reserve the browned butter in a small bowl.
  • Mix the water and cornstarch, and add to the pan that cooked the scallops. Then add lemon zest, wine, and lemon juice. Turn heat to medium-high. Scrape the pan to loosen the fond from the bottom. When the sauce has thickened slightly, add the browned butter and stir.
  • Plate the scallops, spoon the sauce over the top, and garnish with chopped basil.


Calories: 225kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 44mg | Sodium: 477mg | Potassium: 384mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 280IU | Vitamin C: 29mg | Calcium: 29mg | Iron: 1mg


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