Pan-Seared Scallops with Meyer Lemon–Cilantro Aioli

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Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 6 minutes
Servings: 4

Sweet, tender scallops cook very fast, about 2 minutes per side in a searingly hot pan. To get them golden brown, be sure to dry them well with a paper towel before you season them. Tucked into tortillas with crunchy cabbage and lemony aioli, these scrumptious scallop tacos are worthy of company.


  • 1 garlic clove
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml) canola oil
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 Meyer lemon
  • 1 Tbs. finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 small red cabbage, shredded (about 3 cups/9 oz./280 g)
  • 2 Tbs. rice wine vinegar
  • 4 Tbs. (2 fl. oz./60 ml) olive oil
  • 16 medium scallops
  • 8 small flour or corn tortillas, warmed


To make the aioli, put the garlic and a big pinch of salt in a food processor and pulse several times until the garlic is finely chopped. Add the whole egg and egg yolk and process until well blended. With the machine running, drizzle in a few drops of the canola oil, followed by the remaining oil in a slow, steady stream, until it is completely incorporated and emulsified. Transfer the aioli to a bowl and stir in the lemon zest and juice and the cilantro. Season with salt and set aside at room temperature until ready to serve.

In a large bowl, toss the cabbage with the vinegar and 2 Tbs. of the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and let stand at room temperature to allow the flavors to blend.

In a fry pan over high heat, warm the remaining 2 Tbs. olive oil. Season both sides of the scallops with salt and pepper. (If your scallops are very large, you may want to cut them in half horizontally.) Add the scallops to the hot oil and sear, turning once, just until opaque throughout, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove from the heat.

To assemble, fill each tortilla with 2 scallops or 4 scallop halves and top with a handful of the cabbage and a generous drizzle of the aioli. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Taco Night, by Kate McMillan (Weldon Owen, 2014)

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