If you love seafood, this is for you! Plump, juicy, pan-seared sea scallops are one of my personal favorites. These are great served as an appetizer or as a main course with a green salad and a baked potato. If at all possible, use fresh scallops that haven't been treated with an artificial moisture preservative. If not, you may use thawed, previously-frozen sea scallops, just be sure to choose the kind without any other ingredient listed on the package. As for the sauce, less is more because you want to let the flavor of the scallops shine. Add a pinch of fleur de sel to finish, if desired.
Using a fork or electric mixer, beat one stick of butter until fluffy.
Add remaining herb butter ingredients (shallots, zest, thyme, parsley and wine.) Mix well and set aside.
Pat scallops dry with paper towels and lightly season with salt.
In a large skillet (I usually use nonstick), over medium-high heat, melt 1 1/2 tablespoons butter and add oil.
Place 1/3 to 1/2 of the scallops in hot skillet (sear in 2 or 3 batches, don't overcrowd) and cook for 2 minutes (approximately) on each side, until lightly browned on each side and slightly opaque in the center. (Be sure to watch the heat! Better undercooked than overcooked!)
Remove to a warm plate and repeat searing until all scallops are cooked, adding a bit of extra oil as needed.
Reduce heat to medium and add 1/2 cup dry white wine to skillet to deglaze; simmer for 1-2 minutes.
Remove from heat and add half of the herb butter; stir until melted and combined; drain off, and into skillet, any juices that have accumulated on the plate of cooked scallops and return skillet to medium heat for 30 seconds. Taste for seasoning.
Pour a small amount of sauce on plate and arrange scallops on top. Garnish with chopped parsley or chives. Serve immediately.
Cover and refrigerate remaining unused herb butter.
Note: If you don't have shallots, use chives. No zest? Leave it out. No lemon thyme? Use a pinch of dried thyme or leave it out. It will be fine.