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Sweet Chili Scallops with Collards & Bacon

Lauren Collins

Succulent, delicate and meaty scallops are transformed into little pieces of candy, seared and glazed, then served up with savory Carolina rice and quick cooking collards and bacon.  There is just no telling how you'll ever save any for leftovers. 

As part of my weekly summer recipe series, I'm really excited to share this recipe with you!

I don't suspect many of you will be heading out scalloping after reading this post, unless you have a giant boat made for scalloping, so maybe this isn't necessarily a "catch and cook" type of recipe, but more so a recipe to enjoy a locally caught and in season delicacy to support your local fishermen.  

We have so many scalloper boats here on Cape Cod, and just like oysters, chances are the sea scallops you buy from the fish market were caught in these waters.


This recipe uses sea scallops which are generally much larger than the little bay scallops.  The ones I used in these pictures were on the smaller side, but they are still sea scallops.   For this recipe, make sure to purchase the sea scallops so you can get a nice big sear on each side.

This recipe is inspired by one of my favorite restaurants in Greer, South Carolina called the Bin 112, which served up a dish called Candy of the Sea, that was scallops seared and glazed in sweet chili sauce, served with Carolina rice and slow cooked collards. 

Holy moly, that dish stuck with me, along with many other recipes from there, but that one, I crave.  They closed down in 2018, so now I am personally tasked with recreating all of my favorite dishes from the Bin just so I can satisfy these crazy cravings. 

Quick Cooking Collards with Bacon

If ya'll didn't already know, my parents live in South Carolina and for as long as I can remember, I have been a die-hard fan of all things southern - BBQ, hush puppies, okra, tomato pie, Waffle House, and of course, collards.

Traditionally, collards are slow cooked for hours then garnished at the end with vinegar, usually served up with something like beans, cornbread and a pork chop.  Sounds wonderful right?  It is, except these days not many people have hours to kill waiting for collards to cook.  

In this recipe, I sauté garlic and onion, then add in the coarsely chopped collards, crumbled bacon, broth, salt and pepper, and let that slowly simmer for about 30 minutes.  Then I take a strainer and separate the juice from the collards, and mix it all together with Carolina rice, to create a pillowy bed for some sweet and savory scallops.

Once the rice is done, it's time to pan sear the scallops, which takes less than 10 minutes...but there is a trick.

How to Pan Sear Scallops

When searing scallops, or anything for that matter, rule #1 is always not touch it until it's time to flip it.  Seriously, don't move it around in the pan or pick it up to check the sear situation, just leave it.  This will give it a beautiful sear.

Pat each scallop dry with a paper towel, then lightly season them with salt and pepper.

Heat a pan over medium-high and melt 1-2 tablespoons of butter into the pan.  Once the butter melts, turn the heat down to medium.  

The general rule of thumb is 2-3 minutes per side, and they'll be done when they turn white and feel firm.  (Remember, don't touch them until you're ready to flip them!)

It's as close as I'm going to get to the Bin 112 dish that I miss so dearly.  The salty and slightly bitter taste of the collards and bacon paired with the juicy, sweet scallops certainly do the trick!

You can check out the recipe below or click here to print!  This recipe is intended to serve four people, probably with some leftover rice and collards.  Enjoy!

What do you think?

Let me know by commenting below.

  1. Can you clarify a bit on the recipe? You call for 2 cups of chicken broth as well as cooking the Carolina rice in chicken broth. Is the 2 cups just for cooking the collards? Also you call for 2 cups of cooked rice – how much does this translate to uncooked rice?

    1. Hi Steve, Thanks for pointing that out! What I meant was to follow the package directions to cook the rice, but instead of using water to cook the rice, use broth instead. The 2 cups of chicken broth in the actual recipe are for the collards :).

      For the rice, the easiest ratio to remember is one cup of uncooked rice gives you about three cups of cooked rice, so I would stick to that, and store the rest as leftovers for another dish later on.

      Recipe writing can be a challenge and I’m still smoothing it all out, so I appreciate you pointing these things out so I can make future recipes easier to read through, so thank you!!

      1. Thanks for your response and sharing your recipes. I am new to the cape, new to fishing (Thanks Ryan for all your pointers) but have been expanding my cooking skills for a while.

        Looking forward to making this dish and looking forward to seeing more recipes from you- especially with a “Southern Yankee” twist!

        Go Bruins!

  2. Laeuren
    Those look awesome love collards to , now is there a difference between dry scallop and wet ones ? I thought a scallop was a scallop? Cant wait to try this one!

    1. Hey Chuck! You want to be sure to pat your sea scallops dry before cooking, so they get a really nice sear to them. Also when purchasing them, choose the ones that haven’t been sitting in their liquid for too long. Yes, a scallop is a scallop, but pat them dry first before cooking them 🙂

  3. Thanks Lauren! I just bought 1.5lbs of dry scallops at Market Basket, Love them! We’re grilling them tonight. Your recipe looks great though!

    1. Yum!!! Save some for me – I’ll be over shortly! 😉

  4. Hey Lauren,
    Good point, I always have to remind myself to leave the scallops alone and only flip them once. IMO they are best when cooked less than more. When they are creamy on the inside before they start to crack on the edges. Most restaurants cook them too much.
    Cool scallop story: I was driving my boat across Stage Harbor during a dark, windy day when I heard these guys yelling at me from one of the scallop boats moored out in the middle of the bay. Their tender had become untied from their boat and was quickly drifting across Stage Harbor, leaving them with no way to get back to shore. I retrieved their skiff and brought it back to them. When I got to their boat they handed me a plastic bag filled with 5 pounds of freshly shucked scallops as a thank you!. They were the best scallops I have ever had.
    Betsy and I recently had the seared sea scallops at Tosca in Hingham, pricey, but delicious! My favorite scallop dish to make at home is with wild rice and Miso sauce. I’ll try your recipe soon, could I substitute baby spinach for the collard greens? My New England bias is showing. Have a great weekend.

    1. ANY scallop dish is great in my book! Love the story too, thanks for sharing! I’ll have to check out Tosca in Hingham some time too! You could definitely try spinach instead of collards, but I would also considering trying lacinato kale first and see if you like that. Those kinds of greens are sturdier than spinach and won’t wilt as much 🙂


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