Why aren't my scallops frying properly?

How to prevent sticking and how to burn scallops nicely

Don't use a nonstick pan - a pan that's hot enough to burn well is also hot enough to burn the nonstick coating - which is very bad for you (the fumes kill birds too).

Nonstick pans are also usually made of aluminum and are thin, they don't hold enough heat - the pan will cool down and you won't get a good sear.

Use cast iron or carbon steel pans if you can. They are best for frying. Get it very hot - water should sizzle violently when it hits the pan.

Use more oil than you think you need. A layer of 1-2mm will get between the cracks of the scallop and allow better heat transfer. Use a high smoke point oil, not olive oil. Grapeseed oil works great and is neutral. Corn oil is cheaper, and so is rapeseed.

Make sure they are dry when they go in. Pat them on paper towels, then season them.

Don't use frozen scallops, buy dry scallops. Frozen scallops give up the juice when they hit the hot pan. Plus, they're usually soaked in a solution to make them heavier. You can tell if they were frozen by sitting in a pool of milky liquid and they are likely white / milky in color. Dry scallops are pink, light orange, or cream in color.

If you are using butter, add this as you flip. Otherwise, the water will cool the pan too early. You can baste the scallop with a spoon, but let the butter froth by increasing the heat.

Don't mess with it, burn it up. Let it sit. Turn around once. Keep them apart, otherwise they will dampen.