Scallops are shellfish harvested from both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, as well as from smaller bodies of water along the U.S. coast. The most common are bay scallops and sea scallops, which are usually larger. The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch website notes that 96 percent of all scallops eaten in the United States are wild-caught. By searing scallops, you cook the delicate flesh quickly and seal in the scallop’s natural sweetness. Even when you dry scallops well, to sear them, you must add some oil to your skillet. The nutritional content of seared scallops includes the oil they absorb during cooking.
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Scallops provide low-fat, low-calorie proteins. A 4-ounce serving has 100 calories, with 18 grams of protein, according to the University of Florida Cooperative Extension Service. This serving has 36 percent of the protein required for an adult on a 2,000-calorie diet. It also provides 1 gram of fat, or 2 percent of the daily value. The cholesterol content for this serving is 40 mg, which is 13 percent of the daily value. The carbohydrate content is 3 grams, or 1 percent of the daily value. Scallops also provide 2 percent of the daily value for calcium per 4-ounce serving.
The healthiest way to prepare seared scallops is with a minimal amount of oil that is low in saturated fat. For this reason, olive oil is a commonly used option in many recipes. Recipes that use butter to sear scallops are adding saturated fat that contributes little to the flavor and nutritional profile of scallops. When you use these recipes, you can replace all of the butter with quality olive oil.
Scallops Seared with Olive Oil
Like other oils, olive oil has 120 calories per tablespoon, according to LIVESTRONG.COM My Plate. A 4-ounce serving of seared scallops will require at least 1/2 tablespoon of oil to prepare. Half a tablespoon of olive oil adds 60 calories to your scallops, bringing the calorie total to 160 per serving. The fat content of the cooked scallops also increases. The added oil increases the total fat content to 7.5 grams, or 11 percent of the daily value. The olive oil increases the saturated fat in the seared scallops to 1 gram, or 4.5 percent of the daily value. The cholesterol content of the seared scallops does not increase because the olive oil does not contain any.
To keep the low-calorie, low-fat profile for scallops intact, cook them under the oven broiler. Coat the broiler pan with cooking spray or line it with nonstick aluminum foil. Sprinkle both sides of the scallops with garlic powder, paprika or cumin to create a crust on the scallops while they are broiling. Turn the scallops halfway through the cooking time to get an even crust on both sides.