Pan Seared Scallops with Fennel and Leeks
Pan Seared Scallops with Fennel and Leeks – seared scallops are served on a bed of fennel & leeks braised in a sake-infused sauce. Add some crusty bread to make a meal out of it!
Pan Seared Scallops with Fennel and Leeks – seared scallops are served on a bed of fennel & leeks braised in a sake-infused sauce. Serve it with crusty bread for a simple, cozy meal!
Note: This post was originally published on January 7, 2011. The recipe has been updated from the archives.
I hope you enjoy this favorite from my kitchen.
Have you ever visited a restaurant or an event and encountered a dish you want to recreate in your own kitchen? Where you immediately think, How can I get my hands on the recipe? Indeed, the jackpot in this situation is where you can meet the chef, and they generously give you the recipe.
In most cases, however, we are faced with our senses conducting culinary detective work. Your tastebuds go on overdrive, trying to parcel out ingredients and seasonings. Sometimes the menu description helps. When you return to your kitchen and set upon recreating the dish, if you happen to capture the essence of the original dish, it is bliss!
I attended the Foodbuzz Blogger Festival in November 2010, and one of the most memorable dishes from the Grand Dinner was the Pan Seared Scallops with Bonny Doon Vineyard Verjus Beurre Blanc. What impressed me most was the perfect preparation. Scallops can be challenging to execute as it is – preparing them perfectly for over 300 guests was commendable. The sauce was silky and refined, setting off the impeccable sear.
How to Make Pan Seared Scallops with Sake, Braised Fennel, and Leeks
Inspired by this dish, I went back to my kitchen. I made pan-seared scallops cooked in sake and served on a bed of braised fennel and leeks. The surprise for me was how simple it was to capture the flavors! You can easily make the sauce ahead of time. With scallops taking little time to sear, it makes for a lovely dish to prepare when entertaining, perfect as an appetizer. Or make a larger serving, grab some crusty bread, and make a meal out of it!
How to Make Pan Seared Scallops with Sake, Braised Fennel, and Leeks
- Sauté the Fennel and Leeks
In a non-stick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-low heat. Sauté the fennel and leeks, seasoning with a pinch of salt and pepper, stirring frequently, until the fennel is transparent.
- Add Sake, Chicken Broth, and Butter
Add the sake to the pan, and allow the alcohol to cook off for about a minute.
Stir in the chicken broth and bring the sauce to a simmer. Add in butter, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Transfer to a serving bowl
Transfer the fennel and leeks to a serving bowl.
- Sear the scallops
Wipe out your skillet with a paper towel. Place a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, and heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Working in batches if necessary, lightly season the scallops with salt and pepper, and sear for about 2 minutes, or until golden brown on one side.
- Flip the scallops
Flip the scallops and cook for about 2-3 minutes more, until the other side is also golden brown.
- Plate and serve
Transfer the seared scallops, placing them on the bed of fennel, leeks and sauce. Serve immediately with crusty bread for serving.
More Scallop Recipes
Pan Seared Scallops with Warm Asparagus, Kale, and Tangerine Salad
Cilantro Pea Purée with Seared Scallops
Seared Scallops with Citrus Salsa
Pan Seared Scallops with Fennel and Leeks
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil divided
- 1 fennel bulb cut in half, then sliced very thinly crosswise
- 1 leek quartered and sliced, white part only
- 1/8 cup sake see notes below
- 1/4 cup chicken broth
- 2-3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 8 large sea scallops patted dry, see notes below
- kosher salt
- black pepper freshly ground
- In a non-stick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-low heat. Sauté the fennel and leeks, seasoning with a pinch of salt and pepper, stirring frequently, until the fennel is transparent.
- Add the sake to the pan, and allow the alcohol to cook off for about a minute.
- Stir in the chicken broth and bring the sauce to a simmer. Add in butter, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer the fennel and leeks to a serving bowl.
- Wipe out your skillet with a paper towel. Place a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, and heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Working in batches if necessary, lightly season the scallops with salt and pepper, and sear for about 2 minutes, or until golden brown on one side. Flip the scallops and cook for about 2-3 minutes more, until the other side is also golden brown. Transfer the seared scallops, placing them on the bed of fennel, leeks and sauce.
- Serve immediately with crusty bread for serving.
I adore scallops and these flavors are just incredible, I can taste it. I agree, it’s so much fun coming home and recreating a recipe that grabs you!
Thanks Paula! I’ve been thinking about those mushrooms that we had at the Pom dinner — wonder if Rachael or you ever got around to cooking them up at home?
Gorgeous sear on the scallops! The sauce sounds really good too. Mirin (flavored rice wine) might work here too.
Gorgeous caramelization on the scallops!
I know exactly what you mean about tasting something in a restaurant and wanting to recreate this dish at home. Those plans work best while the flavors are still fresh in your mind.
Very very true – I often forget the nuances of a dish if I wait too long!
I’m going through a bit of a scallop phase right now. I’ve been making them in a more French style but I’m loving the idea of searing them and pairing with the sake-braised vegetables. Lovely.
Thank you, Tonya – French style scallops sound wonderful – I love them in so many ways!
those were excellent scallops at the festival! Yours look every bit as good if not better! I love scallops! Sake sounds like a great alternative!
Chef Dennis, I have to say, the sake worked very nicely here. Plus it was perfect since I didn’t feel like opening a new bottle of wine (shh, don’t tell anyone I was feeling lazy!).
Beautiful dish, Liren. The scallops are delicate and perfectly caramelized…I bet the texture was amazing! Congrats on the Top 9 today! :)
Thanks Cristina! The scallops were just what I was hoping for, I was so excited, as you can imagine :)
Your scallops look seared to perfection, and the sake in the sauce sounds fantastic!
Love the Scallops!! Congrats on being chosen for Foodbuzz Top 9!!!
Brough back such great memeories. Dish is exceptional.
That photograph of scallops is gorgeous!
Btw, I love all the desserts in your blog….they all look mouth-watering :)
Why thank you! I’m so glad you dropped by and are enjoying it!
I so enjoy being able to hit a restaurant recipe on the spot. It looks like you did a great job with these scallops! This would such an elegant entree at a dinner party. I always overcook my scallops though. I need to take a lesson from you, it seems! Thank you for sharing, my dear. I hope you have a good Monday. Let the week begin!
Hi Monet, I hope your week is going well. Yes, overcooking used to be one of my biggest mistakes with scallops. I used to be worried that they would be raw! But really, it doesn’t take too long to cook!
That looks perfectly wonderful…I love these flavors :)
That was a good dish and I think you did great capture. I do indeed ask the chef for his recipes and sometimes they are very generous and are flattered.
How generous of them to share their recipes with you! I have had some graciously write the ingredients without proportions – even that is so exciting!
This is so lovely, I really missed out not going to the foodbuzz festival! I didn’t taste the original, of course, but going by the pictures here, you nailed the recipe!
I LOVE scallops. Love, love, love. This is a fantastic recipe which I’m sure I’ll be digging into soon! I do this too, by the way, try to recreate dishes I’ve tried in restaurants: usually a fail, but a great excuse to keep going back to eat it ;)
I love your idea of recipe research, Jackie!
Very impressive and perfectly executed in your kitchen! Seared scallops are one of my go-to elegant but quick dinners – next time I’ll add fennel to my leeks – great flavor combination.
So glad you approve! I just love scallops, too, I really need to enjoy them more often!
i get really excited when i see scallop dishes on the menu, but my problem is that when i make them at home, they never get that same kind of sear like yours. i just can’t get the hang of it.
I used to have trouble with scallops too. My biggest fault used to be overcrowding the pan or overcooking them. Hope you get to try them again soon!
I remember them! Although I could not eat them (can’t eat scallops) I remember everybody praising them. Great job in making this dish. I would have no idea where to start from
I just drooled remembering the Festival dish and your version with sake looks quite inspired. Great job, Liren.
Hi Joan! That festival really was fun, wasn’t it? So glad we had the chance to meet then!
Although I cannot eat scallops I can imagine the succulent tender taste. I also appreciate the refinement and achieving the perfect caramelization the way you succeeded Liren! Great job as always!! Shulie
Thank you so much, Shulie!
Liren, thanks for this wonderful reminder that I love scallops. They used to be a part of my regular rotation but I don’t know what happened. Love, love the flavor combinations in this dish and you know what? I’m not that fond of fennel when I prepare it. Cooked by someone else and I really like it. I’m sure this would be a winner with me.
Enjoy your daughter’s birthday weekend!
How funny! Do you really like fennel when prepared for someone else? Maybe the next time we see each other, I’ll have to make something fennel for you :)
Your photo just makes me want a bite of the succulent little scallop! I will definitely make this recipe! Healthy and Delicious all in one! SOLD.
I too loved the scallop dish they served at the FoodBuzz Blogger Festival. Love the pairing with fennel here, which tends to be so overlooked.
I am so enamored with fennel, I clearly have been cooking with it a lot lately, it seems. But it really does make sense with scallops!
This looks elegant and so delicious! Seared scallops are the best :)
Wow, what a decadent dish! Scallops are such a delicious treat, but one I usually save for ordering at restaurants…but now I’ll have to give this a try! They look amazing.
I used to reserve scallops for restaurants too, but now love them at home. I remember it taking me a while to get the cooking technique down! It’s easier than I was making it out to be :)
Those scallops sound amazing! And the sear on them is absolutely perfect!
Gorgeous scallops!! Nicely done…impressive.
Your scallops are divine! Coincidentally, we are having scallops wrapped in bacon for an engagement celebration for my son and his fiancee, tonight. I hope that mine turn out as well as yours.
Ah, love bacon wrapped scallops! Salty and sweet!
I love scallops, this sounds wonderful with the fennel and leeks! I would totally use sake! Gorgeous photos (as usual)!
These scallops look sensational and I love the sound of the sauce. Thanks for the inspiration for our dinner party tonight!
Hi Jill, hope you were able to try these out for your dinner party! I’d love to know how they turned out!
In the end my husband reminded me they didn’t like seafood so I was so upset didn’t make them! Perhaps I should have just made them for us and just given the guests the sauce ;-) Definitely making soon and will let you know!