Seared Scallops with Mango-Melon Salsa

Seared Scallops with Mango-Melon Salsa

Its summertime! And let me tell you, there is no better way to celebrate the summer season than being seduced by the intoxicating tropical fragrance of mangoes and buttery sweetness of cantaloupe. Seared Sea Scallops with Mango-Melon Salsa is incredibly healthy, cooling and so simple to make. The key is making sure that you have the best quality ingredients. Here are the secrets:

The secret to buying mangoes
I almost always get my mangoes from Jessica’s Organic Farm Stand in Sarasota, right off of University Blvd. Everything they sell there is organic. No chemical pesticides or fertilizers…just good, honest food of the earth. If you think that buying organic means not-so pretty and expensive, then you need to visit Jessica’s. Bright crimson globes of radishes, gorgeous heads of lettuce big enough to cradle in both arms, just-picked spinach with the sweet earth still clinging, and the mangoes! Oh the mangoes are heavenly-juice-dribbling-down-your-chin delectable. Need proof? Have owner Bill cut one open for you – the knife easily glides around the pit. There are no fibers to catch in your teeth. Just pure, creamy and smooth, just like summer should taste.

But hurry, Jessica’s is only open for a few more weeks before they go on summer vacation. For more information, visit

The secret to buying sea scallops
Look for scallops that are labelled “dry packed.” Scallops have high water content when they are freshly harvested and dry out very quickly. To combat this, packers soak scallops in saline water, so that when they reach the fish case, they look plump and pretty. Nice to look at, but once it hits a hot pan, water leaches out and you end up with a soggy, tasteless, rubbery scallop. Dry packed scallops are pinker in color, moist but not swimming in solution and smell slightly of the sea. You might pay a little more money for the dry packed, but sometimes you can catch a good sale at Publix or Sweetbay for $8.99 a pound. If you don’t see them in the fish case, look for frozen packages. If you are not cooking the scallops the same night, its best to ask your fishmonger for frozen ones and defrost them yourself at home.

Seared Scallops with Mango Melon Salsa


Seared Sea Scallops with Mango-Melon Salsa

Servings: Prep Time: Cook Time:
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Use as much chili powder as you want - I love the tingling sensation after the initial sweetness of the fruit. If you don't care for spice, use a pinch of smoked paprika instead.

Mint is so refreshing. Make sure you use fresh mint leaves, the dried flakes won't do. You can substitute with fresh basil, parsley or cilantro.

The Mango-Melon Salsa is also great with tortilla chips, as a topping to grilled chicken, to serve alongside your favorite fish or shrimp skewers.


20 large, dry-packed scallops, rinsed and patted dry
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese, grated powder-fine with rasp grater
Mango-Melon Salsa
3/4 cup finely diced mango (1 mango should do)
1/2 cup finely diced cantaloupe
1/4 cup finely diced red onion
2 tablespoons minced mint leaves
big pinch of chili powder (or substitute smoked paprika)
1/2 lime, juiced
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste


1. Assemble the salsa and set aside to let the flavors meld and mingle while you prepare the scallops.

2. Tap the top and bottom of each scallop gently on the parmesan cheese, shake excess off. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large, non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the scallops. Make sure the scallops do not touch each other. Fry 2 minutes on each side, timing depends on size of your scallops. They should have a golden brown crust. If you take a peek in the interior, they should be rare-ish. They'll finish cooking on their own from residual heat after you remove them from the pan. Overcooked scallops are a sin! Serve with salsa.

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Comments 38

  1. wokandspoon

    The mango-melon salsa is a great idea. And your photos are gorgeously presented! I’m going to go hunt down some mangos in Frankfurt now!

  2. Lynn

    Gorgeous pics! I’m drooling. Why don’t I live in Florida?? I’m pretty sure Jessica’s would be closed by the time I drove down there.

  3. Helen

    Those look gorgeous! I’ve never heard of dredging scallops in parmesan. It sounds like an interesting idea. Do you actually taste the cheese or is it just to help them brown?

  4. Kalyn

    Now you really have my attention! I think scallops are one of my very favorite foods. I’ve had pretty good luck with the frozen scallops from Costco (of course, I’m living in the middle of a desert here, so fresh ones would be horribly expensive!) I think if you’re using frozen ones it’s pretty important to thaw them in the refrigerator, and not in water, and then I gently squeeze each one inside a paper towel so there isn’t too much liquid when they’re cooked. I love to cook scallops on the grill too, in one of those pans with holes that looks like a mini wok. Ok, I am rambling on here. Can you tell how much I love scallops? Saving this recipe right now.

  5. courtney

    Looks wonderful! I think I’ll try that salsa on a big hunk of fresh mahi or red snapper. MMM! You could make a great sorbet with that leftover cantaloupe too… what a perfect meal for a super hot FL day.

  6. Steve

    Looks great! Here in Oklahoma City, we don’t get many fresh scallops, either, but Sam’s Club has some HUGE frozen ones the size of hamburger patties!

    I’m going to doctor the salsa, though (needs more heat). Maybe a couple of serano peppers or even some habanero.

  7. mrshbt

    Dear Jaden,

    The way we cook, cut our fruits, the ingredients and dishes we choose, reveals our personality to our readers. The way you cut your mangoes is hygienic. And they look pretty when they are still attached to the mango skin.

  8. wmw

    Gosh, when I came in here for a look, I nearly died! Died and gone to heaven! (had a miraculous healing and came back down to earth! Ha ha ha…) Mango, melon, onions and most of all, scallops! (and chili powder!) All of my fave things together. I sat here, looking at that dish for a good 5 minutes before I typed this! LOL….

  9. tigerfish

    I totally love mangoes. Just that once I used mangoes for salsa, mangoes that reach my hands even since never got a chance to even touch any plate or bowl. Straight into the mouth of those luscious, sweet mango cubes. I shall get my summer cantaloupe soon. And dry packed scallops …now I know why my scallops look so big and fat when I buy them but tends to shrink after light searing. πŸ™
    Once again, beautiful colors of this dish, and a well-written article over at Creative Loafing.
    Why didn’t I see you in the next Food Network Star…but again…you would have shine though without a need for a competition.
    I can’t tell you if you reminded me of Rachael Ray until “…I’ll see you when I see ya…” *lol*

  10. Ashley

    this looks fantastic! i just recently tried scallops and loved them. i worry that my recent honeymoon in the dominican republic has ruined me for mangoes though…i’ll have to see if my farmers’ market has any because i’ve now had the best mangoes EVER! i think this will definitely be the first recipe i try when i decide to make scallops at home for the first time.

  11. Amy

    Great tips for buying scallops, now I know to look for the dry packed ones. Thanks Jaden! You always teach me so much. *hugs* This recipe is another keeper for me. πŸ™‚

  12. SteamyKitchen

    Big Boys Oven- I would LOVE a mont blanc tart!!!

    Steeped – wait for them to be on sale. 1 lb will serve 4 people as a main dish

    W&S- I hope you can find mangoes – its worth the effort!

    Lynn- LOL!

    Helen- Yes, you can taste the cheese….you’ll have to try it because it just made the scallops that much more special (and unexpected too since you can’t really “see” the cheese)

    Lydia- Come visit anytime!

    Kayln – Great idea to use the pan on the grill…never thought of that. I usually pan fry them because one time I tried grilling them and half fell though!!! πŸ™

    Garrett- I specialize in shibbyness!

    LPC- awww thanks!

    Courtney – Mahi mahi would be awesome with the salsa…and I just bought a honeydew melon that I froze right before I left for CA (i’m writing from los angeles) – so when I get back its going to be either sorbet or gelato

    Steve- The size of hamburger patties?!?! HOLY SCALLOPS BATMAN!!! What the @!I$#@* are they feeding scallops? cats and dogs?

    Jennifer J- There was one bite of the salsa that screamed !WHOA! Some of the chilli powder must have pooled on this poor little mango chunk…and it fell on the right spot on my tongue.

    MrsHBT- hmm….hygenic….I certainly take showers daily and use moisturizer regularly….so I guess so!

    WMW- hallelujah!! you’ve been healed by the power of mangoes!

    Tiger- Thats why I always buy double the amount of mango that I really need – one for me, one for the salsa…
    I’ll be back in CA in a couple of months – maybe I’ll take a quick trip to SF just so I can prove I’m not like RR!

    SGC- I whopped RR’s ass!! Cotton Candy?!?!? I need to see this recipe!!! coudln’t find it on your site….

    Ashley- You know what? The last time I got mangoes from the organic market, they were from Haiti….those were AMAZING.

    Amy- Thanks Amy….big hug to you too!

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  14. johanna

    wow… this looks and sounds absolutely delicious! i love the seafood/exoticfruit combination, i do a mean scallop carpaccio with a similar chunky salsa… mmmh!

  15. archana, mama of twins

    I have come by a couple of times but wanted to let you know that your photos are spectacular and your writing is funny and recipes intriguing and makes me want to try some!

    The mango salsa sounds so great..its one of my favorite fruits.

  16. Kenny Mah

    Them scallops are crying out my name! Now if only I have an airline ticket handy here somewhere… πŸ˜›

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  19. Dave Petrs

    Excellant! Thanks Jaden for the taste infusion! I am the only one in the family that likes Scallops so I substituted fresh Shrimp and Wow what a taste. Thanks again, Dave in Denver

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  22. cs

    The rice was wonderful, the salas amazing but I need to hone my scallop searing skills. I defrosted them, brought to room temperature and dried them and seasoned with salt and pepper before searing. They still gave off so much liquid that I didn’t get that beautiful brown. Oh, I left off the parmesan cheese, as my sister whom I was cooking for hates it. If that’s the secret searing ingredient I will try it next time. Brilliant summer time meal.

    1. SteamyKitchen

      You probably got scallops that were NOT dry packed and were packed in a solution that keeps the scallops fresh, but ruins the texture and taste. Next time asked for “dry packed” scallops at the market.

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