Seared Scallops with Cilantro Lime Sauce. Served with black rice and crispy roasted kale. 

Seared scallops have got to be one of the most delicious things in the world. And I’m not talking about the scallops you get in restaurants that are overcooked 99.99% of the time. I’m talking about the ones we cook at home. Scallops are one of the quickest, easiest, protein-rich foods to cook up.

The key to a nice sear on your scallops is to make sure you pat them dry before seasoning with salt and pepper. Then, add a bit of butter or oil to your pan, get it hot over medium high heat and sear your scallops for a minute or two on each side. The scallops should sizzle when you add them to the pan. We prefer our scallops with a nice seared crust on the outside, but a tad undercooked on the inside.

An overhead shot of seared scallops and kale and black rice with lime wedges.

This dish is so simple, elegant and flavorful. Black (forbidden) rice serves as a bed for those fresh plump sea scallops. Then a quick sauce made with cilantro, scallions, lime juice and extra virgin olive oil tops off the dish. The freshness of this blended herb sauce is fresh, light and herbal and goes really nicely with the black rice and crispy kale.

Black rice pairs so beautifully with any colored fruit or vegetable and it has a great chewy texture and satisfying, nutty flavor – plus it’s rich in health-promoting anthocyanins antioxidants, which give black rice its vibrant color.

Scallops with a cilantro lime sauce over black rice and crispy kale on a white plate.

When I’m cooking rice for a recipe, I always cook up more than what we need for that meal, so we can use it throughout the week. In this case, in addition to this scallop dish, I made a rice salad with fresh herbs, paired it with roasted salmon and added a scoop to my lunchtime greens along with some black beans, avocado and salsa.

seared scallops over black rice with kale on a white plate

Here’s how to make this simple Seared Scallops with Cilantro Lime Sauce dish:

Seared Scallops with Cilantro Lime Sauce.

Seared Scallops with Cilantro Lime Sauce. Served with black rice and crispy roasted kale.
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 4 people


For the rice

  • 1 cup black (forbidden) rice

For the Cilantro Lime Sauce

  • 1 large handful cilantro
  • 4 scallions (white and green part) bottoms trimmed
  • 2 limes, divided one sliced into wedges, for serving
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
  • salt to taste
  • black pepper to taste

For the Scallops

  • 1 1/2 lbs dry-packed sea scallops remove tough side muscle, if desired
  • sprinkle salt
  • sprinkle black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon butter or oil


For the Rice:

  • In a medium pot, bring 1 cup black rice and 2 cups water to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook, covered for 30 minutes, or until rice is tender. Remove from heat and let sit 10 minutes, covered. Fluff with a fork and set aside. 

For the Cilantro Lime Sauce

  • In a food processor, pulse scallions, cilantro and the juice of 1 lime together. Add a pinch of salt and pepper, rice vinegar and slowly drizzle in about 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil. Pulse until you have a smooth sauce. Pour sauce into a bowl and set aside. 

For the Scallops

  • Dry scallops with a paper towel and season on both sides with salt and pepper.
  • Meanwhile, heat a medium sauté pan with a butter or oil over medium high heat until the butter foams or the oil begins to glisten. Swirl butter or oil in the pan and add scallops (DON'T CROWD the scallops – cook in two batches if need be).
  • Sear for ~ two minutes (until desired doneness) on each side until a nice light golden crust forms. Remove from heat. Serve immediately!

For Serving

  • Place scallops over top black rice in 4 bowls. Drizzle with cilantro lime sauce. Garnish with lime wedges. Serve with crispy kale* or sauteed spinach.


*To make crispy kale, preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. Toss a 12 ounce bag of organic chopped kale with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 10-15 minutes until crispy.

PIN this scallop recipe for later:

A Pin of seared scallops with cilantro lime sauce

This post was originally posted on March 11th, 2015, but has been updated with new images.