Lemon and Scallop Carpaccio

14th April, 2011: Posted by G.L. Pease in Moderate, Starters, seafood

There’s little that comes from the sea that I don’t love, but scallops are a particular fave, and their fresh, sweet, slightly briny flavor is always a delight, whether seared, sautéed, grilled, fried, or in a ceviche or crudo. One especially elegant approach is to serve them as a carpaccio, and that’s what this is. Sort of.

Like most seafood, scallops get along well with citrus, but it’s easy to go too far. Even in a ceviche, too much time in too much lime can easily overwhelm their delicate flavor, so it’s important to approach them simply, and with a light hand. Here, for that reason, the lemon is prepared separately in advance, sweetened and preserved by the application of a little sugar, a little salt. The scallops, sliced and lightly marinated with fresh orange juice, are served on top. The combination is fresh and delightful, making a wonderful little amuse bouche for a seafood supper.

Let’s get to it.

Ingredients – Serves 4-6

For the lemons:

  • 1 or two lemons, Meyer preferred, with beautiful skins
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp dried dill weed
  • 1 tsp nonpareil capers

For the Scallop Carpaccio:

  • 4-5 large diver scallops, thawed or fresh (dry-pack [1] preferred), rinsed and dried
  • 1 Ripe orange, zest grated and reserved, and orange juiced
  • 1 Tbsp sherry or wine vinegar
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt

Method – Active, about an 30 minutes; Total time, about an hour + a day

The day before

Slice the lemons very thin. If you’ve got a mandoline, set it to about 1mm. The slices should be as thin as possible while still holding their shape when handled.

Arrange the slices on a large plate, and sprinkle with the brown sugar, salt and dill weed. Scatter the capers over the top, cover with cling film, and refrigerate for at least 12 hours, or up to 2 days.

Putting it all together

In a small bowl, combine the orange juice, vinegar, salt and minced shallot.

Slice each scallop as thin as you can get away with. If they’re fresh, dry-pack scallops, you can generally go thinner than if they’re frozen/thawed, since they’ll hold their shape better. But, it’s better to go too thick than too thin, and have them disintegrating when handled.

Arrange the scallop slices on a large plate, drizzle with the marinade, cover with cling film, and refrigerate for 20 minutes or so. The goal is to impart a hint of flavor, not to overwhelm or pickle them.

Drain the scallops. On serving plates, arrange a few slices of the lemon, topped with slices of scallop. Drizzle over a bit of fruity olive oil, and sprinkle with a pinch of the reserved orange zest and a little coarse sea salt. Serve at once, and prepare the next round, because everyone will want seconds. The lemon slices are delicious by themselves, or eaten with the scallops.

If you crave a little fiery spice, a few drops of a favored hot sauce on the plate is a nice addition.


  1. If at all possible, get fresh, dry-pack scallops. Wet-pack scallops are treated with sodium tripolyphosphate, which bleaches them, and “plumps” them up. Though they’re cheaper per pound than dry-pack scallops, you’re buying as much as 50% more water, and less flavor, so they may not be a bargain. Dry packed scallops will be off-white, slightly tan or pink, and slightly sticky, while wet-pack will generally be bright white and, um, wet feeling.

One Response

  1. Jefe Says:

    Really cool combination of fresh flavors that should enhance one of my favorite little treats from the sea. I am lucky enough to be able to get my hands on some Nantucket Capes that I might try this with. But then again, they are so good just tossed in the skillet to carmelize….