Key Lime Shrimp and Scallops

One of my seafood stores had nice big scallops for sale, 8 to a pound, and I knew I already had key limes and cilantro at home, so I kinda went with a Latin/Caribbean feel.

After peeling and deveining/gutting the shrimp, and checking the scallops for leftover bits, I patted all dry-ish with paper towels and made a spice mixture of kosher salt, cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, and cayenne:

(Okay, so I like playing with the spices. They remind me of sand paintings sometimes)

Dusted the shrimp with the spices:

And the scallops:

And, I let them sit in their spices for a bit, sort of like a dry rub. Meanwhile I shredded a couple corn tortillas:

And fried them up in some vegetable oil until they were crispy and toasty brown:

(with my notes in the background)

Next, I got the sauce components together. I squeezed the juice out of a bunch of key limes:

Shallots. Of course, there must be shallots.

Roasted red jalapeños, flat-leaf cilantro, a clove of garlic, and canned mild green chilies.

I mildly seared and sautéed the shrimp in olive oil and butter, cooked until just underdone (they’ll warm up in the sauce later and finish cooking):

Then, the same with the scallops, except I put more of a sear on one side (the side that will later be the presentation side):

I tossed the shallots in the same searing pan to soften up a bit and brown in the leftover olive oil and butter. The garlic goes in during the last 30 seconds or so of this:

Then, I tossed in a 1/4-1/3 cup sparkling wine to deglaze the pan and scraped up all that lovely caramelized stuff (what the French call fond) on the bottom. The pan cooled off to a mild simmer, and I reduced it a little bit to get rid of most of the alcohol and incorporate that fond into the wine.

Added cilantro, and peppers:

And lime juice:

Mildly simmered to incorporate the flavors:

Then, I added the shrimp and scallops back in, turned off the heat, and let the shellfish warm up for a minute, maybe two.

Plating was scallops and shrimp on bottom, sauce poured over the top, garnished with crispy tortilla strips. Christey wasn’t too happy with the orange place mat, which would have looked good against a lot of the ingredients, but the seared shrimp and scallops turned out a bit orange themselves, which kinda overpowered the shot. She wanted to reshoot it on a blue place mat, but we had already eaten it ;) As far as my side goes, the scallops turned out perfectly, the shrimp was just barely overcooked, so I needed to take them off the first-cooking sooner. Also, the sauce itself was a bit too sour, I think. Key limes are pretty sweet for limes, but they’re still limes. I think maybe some orange juice or maybe pineapple juice might have balanced the sour. Or, if I wanted to glaze the sauce a bit, some brown sugar or honey. Overall, it was really good, though. We’re probably both nitpicking ;)

-Photography by Christey Krause, Food by Peter Krause



  1. Ginny says:

    Looks great! I love the step-by-step photos! I’m definitely bookmarking this one!

  2. fran says:

    wow. great photos! made me hungry

  3. patsyk says:

    Fantastic step-by-step photos! I love the ingredients all together. I haven’t made scallops before, because I am always afraid of overcooking them.

  4. petermarcus says:

    Patsy: They’re not too hard, just cook on medium-ish heat (not high) and remember they’ll continue to cook after you take them off the heat. I like using a mid-size one as a gauge, either cut into one while cooking, or you can see in the first scallop pic above, the one on the right was naturally split. Once they get opaque almost to the center I take them off. And, if I have to eat the cut one before plating, just to make sure it’s okay of course, well, that’s the fringe benefit of being the cook ;)

  5. rose says:

    wow, that looks very good. the shrimps and scallops look juicy and succulent. i recently got a gift of frozen shrimps with head and tails on. i have some left after trying grilling most of them; but this is another alternative. i love the sauce when you glazed them. lovely…

  6. This looks wonderful – a lot of fresh, exciting flavors in one dish.

  7. Sharon says:

    A joy to prepare – turned out exactly as in the photos, and was delicious. I don’t think there was too much lime juice, but I should have used more than 5 cloves of garlic. I used whole scallops, and so I chopped, breaded and fried the body meat and added at the end with the shellfish. This dish was a big hit! Thanks.