It’s Just a Scallop

This is a cheap shot kind of story but I’m going to tell it anyway.

Last summer I was having dinner at a friend’s house. She is about ten years ahead of me in the parenting game and I’ve always looked to her for advice on everything from day camps to birthday cake bakeries to how best survive third grade clique drama without ending up in the headlines.  She has three daughters, each one more accomplished than the next. At the time of this dinner, the oldest was about to start her junior year in college, the middle one, a homebody, was getting ready to leave for her freshman year at a big school in the Midwest, and the youngest, a high school sophomore, had just returned from doing volunteer work in South America. None of them were at the dinner table with us. In fact, none of them were in the house — until about half way through our delicious grilled salmon, at which point the middle daughter wandered into the kitchen and opened the fridge.

“Hi Honey,” my friend said. “There’s some salmon here if you want it.”

“Nah,” the almost-college-freshman said. “I’m going to Jack’s tonight.” Jack was her boyfriend. She wandered out of the kitchen and we heard the back screen door creak open then slam shut.

My friend rolled her eyes. “You know, when they were little, dinner was such a pain in the ass. All the kids did was complain about what I cooked. It was such a thankless job.” She went on, “Now that they’re older I’ll cook anything they ask for. I’ll cook five different meals if it means they’ll all sit down with me for dinner.”

I call up this story all the time — most recently last week when Abby ate barely one nibble of the sweet, juicy scallops that could not have been more fresh or more delicious. While I cooked up some spaghetti and tossed it with the corn-bacon hash, effectively excusing her from scallop duty, effectively making a separate meal just for her just like all the experts warn against, I called it up again. And then I forced myself to think: Lucky. Feel lucky. They are sitting at the table. They are 7 and 9 years old. They still get excited about a jungle gym with monkey bars and run into my arms if I haven’t seen them all day. If Abby doesn’t eat her [fish/broccoli/hamburger] take a few Lamaze breaths and let it go. It’s just a scallop.

Pan-Seared Scallops with Corn-Bacon Hash
The hardest thing about this recipe is securing the freshest scallops you can find. It’s my new favorite simple summer skillet meal.

In a large skillet set over medium heat, cook one strip of bacon until crisp, about 2 minutes. Remove bacon from pan, blot with a paper towel, then chop into pieces. Add 1 small shallot (minced) to the bacon fat in the pan and stir until wilted about 1 minute. Add the kernels cut from 4 ears of corn and cook about 2 minutes. Remove to a large bowl and toss with bacon and 4-5 basil leaves (chopped). [If you have a scallop-hater in the house, prepare your spaghetti now.]

To the pan, add 1 pat of butter and a glug of olive oil and turn the heat to medium-high. Add a dozen and a half sea scallops (that have been patted dry) to the pan and brown 1 1/2 minutes on each side. Remove scallops from pan to each dinner plate. Add about 1/4 cup of wine (white or rose) to the pan, one garlic clove (minced), and a little more butter. Turn heat to high and scrape up all the brown bits as you stir, about one minute. (Monitor carefully — the sauce can disappear if you’re not watching.) When pan sauce is syrupy, drizzle over the corn salad and toss.

Squeeze a little lemon over your scallops and serve with hash and a grape tomato salad that has been tossed with olive oilbasil, salt, and pepper. After halving the tomatoes, I outsourced the tossing to the 9-year-old.

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Jennifer Duncan

Scallops are my new “wouldn’t touch as a kid, had to turn 35 to love” food, right up there with brussels sprouts. Scallops with bacon and corn? yummmm!


This is a great post to remind me to be more grateful to the up-turned noses and sour faces when they don’t like something I put a lot of effort into cooking. My widowed mother reminds me often to enjoy these years. The noise, the fights and the rejection of what I have cooked. It goes too fast.


I’ll remember this as turkey spaghetti goes wizzing past my head tonight courtesy of my two year old and be gratefull that he isn’t the grilled cheese instead of what everyone else is eating kid that I was.

Question: I work for a foodservice distributor and “inherited” a box of frozen imitation crab meat the other day from our test kitchen. While I’m sure the word imitation does not conjur up a lot of warm fuzzies, any back pocket recipes on how to cook such a thing? I have never cooked crab or it’s imposter ever!

Shannon @ A Mom's Year

Such a great post and so very true. My children are much less adventurous eaters than I was, but at least they don’t care if their food touches (my poor mother). I just discovered your blog via Bon Appetit. Loved your article about grilling. I, too, learned to grill out of desperation. I tend to burn things, though, because I insist on multitasking while I’m grilling. Unlike my husband, who could happily stand in front of the grill forever, drink in hand. We’re making your yogurt-marinated grilled chicken tonight!

Nancy @Rivertree kitchen

I have a 16-year-old son who went through years of picky eating. Now that he’ll eat just about anything (and in large quantities), he’s rarely home for dinner. My husband and I will love these scallops. I’ll save the leftover corn hash for our son.


You can’t feel bad about making special dinners, my mom did it for me all the time, and I turned out just fine! Your daughters will appreciate you someday, I promise!

The PranaMama

You said it…thanks for the reminder! Mine are 6 and 4 and sometimes dinner is a struggle – but you’re right. At least they are sitting down with us and we are a family under one roof.


oh man. great post. “take a few lamaze breaths.” love it. and so true. they are not going to be at the table for much longer. but hopefully they will come back. my parents’ table is now one of my favorite places.


It’s funny, but I wrote about eating with my daughter who has special needs tonight — how despite her disabilities, she loves food and since she’ll always live with me, we’ll always eat together.

I love this post —


You know, it’s funny how much we fixate on kids and their picky eating. Up until two nights ago, I was the same way. But then my 5 year old asked me this question at dinner, “Mommy, do you like everything?”
I don’t, in fact, like everything. I don’t like ham, acorn squash, clams, mussels, blue cheese, cilantro, pomegranate, etc. But because I don’t like those things, I don’t ever cook those things so from my kids viewpoint it looks like I like everything.
I’m going to try and keep that in mind the next time I cook up a batch of chili (that I know my 3 year old doesn’t like) or a side of lima beans (that I know my 5 year old won’t touch). Because I know that I can be a little picky sometimes too!


Thanks for that post! I thought about it last night as my 5 year old daughter spit out a scallop (onto my plate no less) that I had asked her to try! I thought about the fact that she is starting kindergarten in a few short weeks, and I should just enjoy her, plain and simple (even with half chewed food on my plate)!


My little girls sure don’t seem to like anything I cook either. But we do make a point to eat together.


Made this tonight with fresh veggies from our garden. LOVED it! Can’t wait to try and discover more of your recipes. Thanks 🙂