Scallops are a culinary treat. A delicate, slightly sweet tasting seafood that’s subtle enough in flavor to leave you craving more once you’re finished. Unlike most other seafood, scallops don’t have that overbearing fishy taste that takes control of the meal and demands your attention.
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The mild flavor should be taken into account when choosing a side dish for scallops. Anything with too much of a flavor punch will drown out the delicious taste of scallops.
Check out our top picks in this gallery
21 best scallop side dishes
1. Rice pilaf
Rice pilaf cooked in chicken broth is a marvellous option. Be sure to not over cook the rice as you’ll get a mushy textured side that’ll detract from the star of the dish. Check out this pilaf recipe.
2. Sesame sauce
Toasted sesame seeds added to a creamy sauce is a beautiful way to enhance the umami flavor of the seafood. Get the sesame sauce recipe here.
3. Warm fruit salsa
I love fruit for adding a fresh, vibrant colour to the plate. I suggest this mango salsa recipe.
4. Butter sauce
Butter seems so basic, but it does a wonderful job of enhancing the hero ingredient as well as adding a lovely mouth feel to the meal. Try out this recipe for butter sauce.
Spaghetti is an exception side dish for scallops. There are loads of recipes for making a good spaghetti sauce too; I suggest choosing a sauce that’s light and not too full in flavor. There’s a good selection here for you to choose from.
6. Mint chimichurri
Another superb option is to make a chimichurri sauce. The freshness of the basil will complement the scallops.
7. Roast potatoes
I find roast potatoes make almost any dish better – scallops are no exception. Try out this recipe which never fails.
8. Potato gratin
Like roast potatoes, this is a winning option in so many meals. Here’s a good recipe to get you started.
9. Wilted Swiss chard
Swiss chard can be mildly bitter so it’s best to saute the leaves before eating to help dull the bitterness. Here’s a simple recipe for cooking Swiss chard.
10. Cauliflower bisque
A delicious cauliflower bisque is a great side for scallops. Dial up the bisque by adding Yukon gold potatoes and seasoning. Here’s a good recipe to try.
11. Brussels sprouts
This is such a simple choice but also quite amazing. There’s no need to make this option too fancy. Simply boil the Brussels sprouts until tender and serve with a sprinkle of sea salt.
Pea puree is one of those sides that should be used more by cooks. You’ll need to boil your peas until tender, strain, then pop them in a blender and process. Once the texture of the puree is smooth you can add it to a piping bag and make a fancy looking arrangement on the plate. Pure artwork.
Couscous provides a very mild flavor to the plate and is wonderful combined with a hit of pomegranate. See this recipe for a good couscous side.
One of my favorite combination of ingredients is scallops and garlic. Add the garlic to a creamy sauce and you can’t lose. Here’s the recipe.
Rapini is a lesser known vegetable in the culinary world. If you use rapini be sure to boil it first to reduce the bitterness then saute before serving. Get the full rundown on how to cook rapini here.
16. Parsnip puree
Parsnip puree is another sides that should be used more by cooks. You’ll need to boil your peas until tender, strain, then pop them in a blender and process. Once the texture of the puree is smooth you can add it to a piping bag and make artistic streaks or one big blob on the plate. Your guests eat with their eyes so before they’ve taken a bit, they’ll be savoring your meal.
17. Brown butter polenta
Polenta is popular in Italian cooking and is made from maize. It is very tasty when smoked with browned butter. Here’s the recipe.
18. Snap peas and pancetta
The freshness of in-season peas with a few finely sliced pieces of pancetta are a good combination. Try it and see what you think.
19. Garden salad
Toss some fresh salad vegetables into a bowl to create a quick side to accompany your scallops. Add some finely sliced fennel to add a hint of anise to the dish and to elevate the fresh taste.
20. Chorizo and corn
Chorizo and corn pair beautifully with scallops. Cut thin pieces of chorizo and fry them with the corn kernels before serving. Avoid serving whole chorizos as they’ll overwhelm the scallops on the plate.
Blanch asparagus for 1-3 minutes until they soften a little then serve with a sprinkle of salt. A creamy mayonnaise would be a great addition. Find out more about cooking asparagus here.
Final words on scallops
Scallops are a hugely popular dish as both an entree and a main. I think a big reason diners love them is due to their mild flavor without the pungent fish taste that usually comes with seafood.
The fact that they’re delicate means you need to choose choose a side dish for scallops wisely. Although the occasional strong tasting ingredient will work with scallops, it’s usually best to err on the side of caution.
Sometimes less is more.
A simple bowl of spaghetti or fresh vegetables that are crisp and in-season work magic when combined with scallops. They’ll allow the scallops to star on the plate and keep your family and friends coming back for more.
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