This Pan-fried Scallops and Chorizo on Sweet Potato Mash is a dinner that is packed with flavor, tastes amazing, looks gorgeous, yet is so simple to make!
The chorizo is pan-fried until lightly crispy; releasing its paprika spiked oil into the skillet. This gorgeous red oil is used to cook the scallops and garlic, ensuring that every bite of this dish is exploding with flavor.
Serve this as a date night dinner, or make a smaller portion and serve it as a scallop and chorizo starter!
Surf and Turf
Traditionally a juicy steak with some plump garlic shrimp. But scallops work so well with meat that they deserve their spot in the #surfandturf arena.
The sweet tender flesh of perfectly cooked scallops (more on that later) works so well with stronger meats chorizo and bacon. My Scallop Pasta with Bacon is one of the most popular seafood recipes on my blog! That makes me happy because it is sooo good. It's the salty notes that make it taste amazing and the same can be said for scallop and chorizo!
The smoky, spicy, salty chorizo works so well with the sweet scallops. It doesn't overpower, it just balances them. Seriously so delicious!
Perfectly Cooked Scallops
Scallops are so tender and sweet and need very little cooking. If you have ever eaten a scallop and though "What is all the fuss about?" then I would almost guarantee you've been served an overcooked scallop.
I've seen recipes out there that suggest 3-4 minutes a side! People that is pretty much how long a small chicken breast takes! Scallops should be in the pan no more than 3 minutes in total!
I learned to cook scallops from Gordon Ramsey, so I do as I am told, I mean.....would you argue with him? (Side note, isn't he amazing and kind when he is on the Kids Masterchef!!)
Perfectly cooked scallops should have a crisp golden-brown crust and be delicate and tender in the middle. You can read my full length in-depth top tips for “How to Perfectly Pan Sear Scallops” here, but here's a recap:
- Dry the scallops fully before you start to cook them.
- Only add salt to the scallops when your frying pan is hot and you are about to put the scallops into the pan.
- Add the scallops to your frying pan/skillet in an ordered pattern (I use a clock face method) this way you know which went in the pan first and which to turn first.
- Once you've added the scallops to the pan, don’t touch them until it is time to flip them, you want a crust to form.
- If you are using smaller bay scallops, reduce the cooking time down to 60 seconds a side.
What is Chorizo?
Chorizo is most often made from pork and is a heavily seasoned sausage. The most common variety is red chorizo but you can occasionally find green chorizo which is very heavy with cilantro.
Both Mexico and Spain use chorizo a lot in there cooking and they are quite different.
The difference between Mexican and Spanish chorizo
- Mexican Chorizo: This is a flavored ground meat sausage that is uncooked. You buy it raw like a standard sausage. Mexican Chorizo is flavored with chili and garlic and is made with fresh ground pork (and sometimes beef). It is sold in the fresh sausage section of the grocery store near the breakfast links.
- Spanish Chorizo: This is made with cured or semi-cured chopped pork and is seasoned predominantly with smoky pimentón (dried and smoked red peppers). Spanish chorizo is harder and you can often buy it as spicy chorizo or sweet chorizo.
Which Chorizo to use?
For this Scallop and Chorizo dish, I recommend finding the cured Spanish chorizo. You can cut it into nice disks and it mirrors the shape of the scallops.
If you can only get a hold of Mexican chorizo then don't fret, it will still taste amazing!
How to Cook Scallop and Chorizo
Start the sweet potato mash before you start cooking the chorizo and scallops. I like to have it finished and keeping warm under foil before I start on the scallops and chorizo because they are so quick to cook.
The sweet potatoes in this dish are based on my popular Savory Sweet Potato Mash recipe. But here we add some garlic to the mash and then season with some onion powder and a little smoked paprika. This helps to mirror the flavors in the chorizo.
Because scallops don't take long to cook and will go cold quickly, you cook the chorizo first and then cook the scallops. This also means you can cook the scallops in the wonderful red paprika-spiced oil that the chorizo releases.
The chorizo takes 3-4 minutes to cook and then the scallops take a further 2-3 minutes.
For other delicious Scallop dishes why not try:
- Pan Seared Scallop Pasta with Creamy Bacon Sauce
- Seared Scallops with Paprika Garlic Butter Sauce
- Seared Scallops with Cauliflower Puree
- Seared Scallops with Saffron Cream Sauce
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Pan-fried Scallops and Chorizo on Sweet Potato Mash Recipe
For the Sweet Potato Mash
- 2 large sweet potatoes
- 2 cloves garlic
- pinch salt
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp sour cream
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp onion powder
- pinch smoked paprika
- pinch black pepper
For the Scallops and Chorizo
- 1 coil Spanish chorizo sausage (8oz/225g coil) - see note 2
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 12 large sea scallops - see note 3
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 lemon
For the Sweet Potato Mash
- Peel and cut the sweet potatoes into 1″ (2.5cm) cubes.
- Peel the garlic and cut into rough chunks
- Place the sweet potato and garlic in a large saucepan and cover with boiling water.
- Bring the pan back to a boil, add a pinch of salt, then simmer for 15 minutes until tender.
- Drain well and then return the potatoes and garlic to saucepan.
- Mash the potatoes and garlic to your preferred consistency.
- Add in the butter, sour cream, salt, onion powder, paprika, and pepper.
- Stir well to combine and melt the butter.
- Taste and add more salt depending on your tastes.
- Cover and keep warm whilst you cook the scallops and chorizo
For the Scallops and Chorizo
- Ensure the scallops are dry by patting them with a paper towel to remove any moisture. Then leave them to sit on a sheet of paper towel whilst you cook the chorizo.
- Place a heavy-based frying pan or skillet over medium-high heat, add the olive oil and chorizo. Cook for 3-4 minutes until crispy and cooked through.
- Use a slotted spoon to remove the chorizo leaving the oil behind in the pan.
- Season the scallops lightly with salt. Then carefully and quickly add the scallops to the frying pan.
- Do them individually starting at 12 o’clock and working around the outside of the pan.
- Cook the scallops for 90 seconds on one side.
- Turn the heat off under the pan and add the butter.
- Use tongs to gently turn each scallop over into the sizzling butter, again starting at 12 o’clock and working around in the same order you added the scallops.
- Leave the scallops for 60 seconds, then squeeze over the juice of half the lemon.
- Remove the scallops from the pan and serve with the chorizo on top of the mash. Drizzle with the pan juices and garnish with fresh parsley. Cut the remaining half a lemon up to serve on the side.
- This will serve 4 as a main or 6 as an appetizer/starter.
- For this Scallop and Chorizo dish, I recommend finding the cured Spanish chorizo. If you can only get a hold of Mexican chorizo then don't fret, it will still taste amazing! Use your choice of spicy or sweet chorizo.
- Ideally, you want to buy what are sold as "Dry Sea Scallops", these are scallops that haven't had water injected into them, so they are much tastier and also they cook better. Look for scallops marked as 10-20 count. Meaning you get 10-20 per pound.