Without a doubt, sea scallops are one of my favorite seafood items. When done right and paired with the right ingredients, the inherent sweetness of the scallops will shine through. When choosing scallops at your local grocery store, make sure that what you are getting is not previously frozen or chemically treated. The taste and how the scallops cook would be vastly different from fresh scallops. Also, it is good to choose big and plump scallops, preferably the U10s or U12s (10 or 12 scallops to a lb.), as they are easier to handle when cooking and won't tear off as easily as the smaller ones.
Presentation-wise, scallops look best when just lightly pan seared to get some browning of the flesh on both sides. Start off with a hot skillet and melt some butter for searing the scallops. For the more health conscious, the butter can be substituted with vegetable oil. After lightly searing the scallops on both sides, remove them and finish them up in the oven. Most of the time, scallops of the size that we are using would not cook through all the way on the skillet without burning. It is always a good idea to finish them off in the oven for a few minutes.
Now, for the sauce. After removing the scallops, with the pan still hot, cook up some chopped garlic, fresh rosemary and thyme and then deglaze the skillet with the juice of an orange, freshly squeezed if possible. To add more citrus flavor to the sauce, add a shot of Grand Marnier (or Triple Sec) and reduce the liquid until it thickens to a saucy consistency. The strong aroma from the fresh rosemary and thyme will blend very well with the citrus of the orange, tickling one's nose and taste buds as well.
As for the asparagus, simply bring a pot of salted water to a boil and blanch the vegetable for a few minutes. Be careful not to overcook the asparagus. As soon as the asparagus becomes slightly soft, take them out and put them in cold ice water to immediately halt the carryover cooking. I like my asparagus a little crunchy, so I only boil them for less than 3 minutes. Before serving, drizzle some butter on the asparagus for taste and seasoning.
As you can see from the pictures above, arrange the asparagus and scallops in this fashion and pour the sauce on top of the scallops. You can garnish the dish with either a slice of orange or a sprig of thyme or rosemary.
However you do it, have fun and bon appetit!