I have never been a huge fan of scallops. When I've eaten them they've usually been undercooked or overcooked. My feelings have changed. Although I don't eat them often, I have a new-found appreciation for them.
The trick to cooking scallops is to have the fry-pan smoking hot. What I mean by this is that it should be giving off a tiny bit of smoke just before burning point. I usually use vegetable, canola or sunflower oil for these high temperatures. The pan should be lightly oiled and the oil itself should be swirling.
Scallops only require very little time in the pan. Medium-sized scallops such as the ones pictured were cooked for 80 seconds: 40 seconds on each side and - this is important - turned only once.
The high heat of the pan sears the outside of the scallop which helps to seal in the juices making the flesh firm yet tender.
The glaze is a combination of caramelized sugar, orange juice and zest and soy sauce. If you've never caramelized sugar before, then be warned, it requires a little patience and constant attention. The result is worth it though and it only takes about 15 minutes. This particular glaze is also excellent with chicken, oily fish such as salmon and halibut or pork.