Seared Scallops with Serrano Ham

Seared Scallops with Serrano Ham from Rick Stein's Fish and Shellfish cookbook. A wonderfully elegant fish starter recipe.

Rick Stein's Fish & Shellfish
The definitive guide to fish and shellfish
Innovative versions of favourite seafood dishes
Failsafe prep and cooking instructions


I’m pleased that in Britain scallops are normally sold with the orange roe attached. Elsewhere it’s often not the case and people are missing a treat, particularly in this timeless combination of seafood and cured ham.

Serves 4


8 thin slices of serrano ham or similar cured ham
Leaves from 1 frisée lettuce heart and a handful of other bitter salad leaves
50g chilled unsalted butter
12 prepared scallops
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp sherry vinegar
1 tbsp chopped parsley


Preparing Scallops

1. Wash the scallops to remove any sand and weed from the shells. Hold a scallop in one hand, with the flat shell facing uppermost, and slide the blade of a sharp, thin-bladed, flexible knife between the two shells. You may want to wrap the hand holding the scallop in a tea towel for safety.

2. Keeping the blade of the knife flat against the top shell, feel for the ligament that joints the meat of the scallop to the shell. Cut through it and lift off the top shell.

3. Pull out the frilly 'skirt' and black stomach sac which surrounds the white scallop meat and pink coral. Rinse away any sand from inside the shell.

4. Slide the knife under the scallop meat, keeping the blade close to the shell, and cut it away. Pull off and discard the small white ligament attached to the side of the scallop meat.

For the Seared Scallops with Serrano Ham

Arrange the ham and a pile of the salad leaves on 4 plates. Generously rub the base of a large non-stick frying pan with the block of butter and cut the remainder into small pieces.

Set the pan over a high heat and, as soon as the butter starts to smoke, add the scallops and sear for 2 minutes on each side, seasoning them with a little salt and pepper as they cook. Arrange the scallops on top of the ham. 

For the dressing, remove the pan from the heat, add the sherry vinegar and stir to scrape up any residue from the bottom of the pan. Return the pan to the heat, add a tablespoon of water and whisk in the butter, a few pieces at a time, then add the parsley and season with a little salt and pepper. Spoon the dressing over the leaves and serve.

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