These quick and easy bacon-wrapped scallops with a creamy corn puree will make your guests think you spent the whole day in the kitchen, but are done in under 30 minutes!Jump to Recipe Print Recipe
To make this recipe, you’ll need scallops, bacon, corn, and some fresh garlic and herbs. 5 ingredients aside from oil, salt, and pepper. For tools, you need toothpicks, a frying pan, and either a food processor or blender. That’s it!
What kind of scallops should you buy? Sea? Bay? Diver? Fresh? Frozen? Wet? Dry? What’s the difference? You can read more on The Spruce Eats, but I will answer basic questions here. Bay scallops are usually the smallest and the sweetest. They’re harvested in shallower coastal waters, as the name would suggest. Sea scallops come from deeper, colder waters and are harvested year-round. They are larger and a bit less tender, and benefit from a slightly longer cooking time. Diver scallops are the largest (and most expensive) sea scallops. The name reflects the fact that they are hand-harvested by divers and chosen for their size and quality. Labeling in seafood is unfortunately not always accurate, so be aware that “diver” scallops in your local grocery score may not have actually been hand-harvested.
For seafood, size is indicated by the number of scallops per pound. The letter “U” indicates under, so U8 and U10 scallops are jumbo with a maximum of 8-10 scallops per pound. , 10/15 and 15/20 are large sea scallops, and small bay scallops may be 70/120. For this recipe, sea scallops in the 10/20 range are preferred. Even larger sea or diver scallops can also be used, but you may want to slightly increase the cooking time.
Fresh scallops are preferable to frozen if you can get them, but are not an option where I live. I use frozen scallops for this recipe and they taste wonderful. “Dry” scallops are also preferable to “wet”. Dry scallops sear more easily, and are much less likely to become rubbery during cooking.
Many brands treat scallops with sodium tripolyphosphate prior to freezing. Ostensibly it’s done to help the wet scallops retain more moisture during the defrosting process, but in reality it makes them retain water and therefore reduces the scallop count per pound (raising the price). Look at the ingredient list and try to find a package that only lists “scallops” – these are more likely to be dry. If they are defrosted and in the fish case, look for a milky residue pooling underneath the meat – this will be present for wet scallops but not for dry. Avoid them if you can. I live in Green Bay – I take what I can get, unfortunately.
Whether your scallops are fresh or frozen, wet or dry, you want to remove extra moisture prior to cooking. Salt them, place them on a paper towel-lined plate, top them with paper towels, and cover with a light weight object (plates work well) to apply just a bit of pressure. After about 15 minutes, season and proceed with the recipe.
This may be the only time I’ll ever tell you to intentionally cook limp bacon, but that’s what I want you to do today. One of the tough things about cooking food wrapped in bacon is timing. Scallops don’t take long. If you wrap scallops in raw bacon and try to cook them together, you’ll either have overdone scallops or underdone bacon. The solution is to precook the bacon partway through, and then wrap the scallops and finish them together. Thin bacon is better than thick for this recipe, and homemade or store-bought both work. If you do use thicker cut bacon, make sure you increase the bacon pre-cook time.
I like to precook bacon in my trusty cast-iron skillet. It gives you the most control with the least chance of the bacon sticking. You can try other methods (how to cook bacon), but make sure you cut the time in half. I also cut the bacon slices in half, because a half slice is the right size to wrap once around each scallop. Assess the bacon early and often. Once it begins to get crispy, it won’t be pliable enough to wrap around the scallops. I pull mine from the frying pan as soon as they begin to have a tinge of light brown, as shown below. Remove the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate, and then proceed with wrapping the scallops once it has cooled.
Wrapping the Scallops in Bacon
Your scallops should have already been salted, so just add several grinds of fresh black pepper to both sides. Pick up one scallop and hold it by the flat top and bottom. Pick up one half-slice of bacon in your dominant hand, and wrap it around the round sides of the cylindrical scallop. Secure with a toothpick. Repeat until all scallops and bacon have been used.
Place scallops on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray or lined with parchment. Place in oven, preheated to 400F, and check after 7 minutes. Scallops should be white, opaque, and firm, with an internal temperature of 125-130F (130 is recommended, but they will come up a few degrees after being removed from the oven). Bacon should be red and crisp. Voila! Bacon-wrapped scallops!
Creamy Corn Puree
To make the corn puree for your bacon-wrapped scallops, start by heating a pan over medium heat. Add a tablespoon or so of neutral oil, such as grapeseed. Add 1 cup of corn, either fresh off the cob if in season or frozen. Season with salt and pepper and add 2-3 cloves of minced garlic. Cook garlic while stirring for about 30 seconds, then turn off heat.
Once corn has cooled for a few minutes, transfer to a food processor or blender. Add 1/2 cup heavy cream and pulse until mixture starts to become smooth. I like mine with bits of recognizable corn present, but it’s up to your preference. If you prefer a smooth puree simply blend/process for longer.
Assembly of Bacon-Wrapped Scallops
When the scallops are out of the oven, transfer the puree back to the pan over medium-low heat. Stir to warm through, watching closely that puree does not reach a boil. Once warm, use a spatula to place a healthy smear of puree on a plate. Top the puree with 3-5 scallops per person. Add a bit of fresh herbs on top – I like cilantro, but parsley or basil would work as well. Serve, and enjoy!
I served mine with a mushroom risotto and sauteed rainbow chard, but many things would complement this delicious dish. Try something with color for a beautiful plate, such as roasted beets with sauteed greens, or roasted sweet potatoes and crisp broiled asparagus.
Bacon-wrapped scallops with creamy corn puree
- 1 lb scallops
- 1/2 lb bacon 1 slice of bacon for every 2 scallops, each slice cut in half
- 1 cup corn fresh cut off cob or frozen
- 2-3 cloves garlic freshly minced
- 1/2 cup cilantro fresh – may substitute parsley or basil
- salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
- cooking spray
- 1 Tbsp grapeseed oil or any neutral oil
- Begin by preheating oven to 400F
- Ready scallops: salt top and bottom and place scallops on plate or cutting board lined with paper towels. Cover with another layer of paper towels and a very light weight, such as a plate or synthetic cutting board.
- Partially cook bacon. Place a cast-iron pan over medium heat and immediately add half-slices of bacon to cold pan. Cook, turning occasionally, until barely light brown and NOT crisp. Remove to a paper towel-line plate. Cook in batches until all are ready.
- Once bacon is cool enough to handle, wrap each scallop in one half-slice of bacon and secure with a toothpick.
- Place scallops on sheet pan sprayed with cooking oil or lined with parchment paper.
- Cook in 400F oven for approximately 7 minutes, or until scallops are firm, white, and opaque.
- While scallops are cooking, make corn puree. Heat pan over medium heat. Add 1 T neutral oil such as grapeseed. Add corn and cook for a few minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add minced garlic and cook an additional 30 seconds. Turn off heat.
- Transfer corn mixture, once cooled a bit, to blender or bowl of food processor. Add cream. Pulse in short bursts until a rough puree. Transfer back to pan over medium-low heat and heat through.
- Use rubber spatula to place a smear of corn puree on each plate. Top with 4-5 scallops per person. Top each serving with a garnish of fresh herbs. Serve and enjoy!