When it comes to eating seafood, there is one rule we are told time and time again: don’t eat it raw, make sure it’s cooked before you eat it!
This is a rule told to us with the best intentions but unfortunately, it’s not always true. There are plenty of seafood items that you can eat raw without suffering any consequences such as illness or food poisoning.
However, it’s important to know which foods can be enjoyed raw and which ones need to be cooked first or you will be putting yourself at serious risk of illness and disease.
So, – what about scallops?
Scallops are a type of mollusk closely related to clams, oysters and mussels – but can they be eaten raw, or must they be cooked first?
Here we are going to be taking a look at scallops to see if they are safe to eat raw or if you have to first cook your scallops to avoid food poisoning.
So, check out the below information to potentially save yourself a lot of sickness and worry.
Can You Eat Raw Scallops?
Due to scallops’ close connection and similarities with mussels, a lot of people automatically assume that you have to cook scallops first before eating them.
However, this isn’t true. Like some other mollusks and seafood, scallops can also be enjoyed completely raw.
So, yes – you can eat raw scallops!
In fact, raw scallops are viewed as a delicacy in certain places. Raw scallops are used in dishes including sushi, tartare, carpaccio, and more.
This means that many cultures and people enjoy eating raw scallops every day and don’t suffer from any side effects or illness.
You can actually enjoy raw scallops straight from the sea. It’s possible to pop them open the moment they have been harvested and pop the meat straight into your mouth to eat. It’s perfectly safe and delicious!
Some people actually prefer to eat scallops when raw because their flavor is much stronger this way.
Scallops are considered a very sweet seafood and so, this sweetness can be enjoyed best when the scallop is raw and uncooked.
This has led to some people comparing scallops to the ‘candy of the sea’ due to its sweet flavor and ability to eat with complete ease.
However, this doesn’t apply to all scallops. Due to the processing that comes after harvesting scallops, some are not suitable to be eaten raw due to the chemicals and water added to them afterwards to help keep them fresher for longer.
This means that the same scallops you buy from the supermarket may not be suitable for eating raw!
Supermarket Scallops: Why You Should Think Twice
There are actually two main types of scallops available for purchase in the market: those caught by trip boats, and fresh day-boat scallops which are also known as ‘dry’ scallops.
Trip boat caught scallops are caught during long harvesting boat trips which can last up to two weeks.
This means that all the scallops, ranging from those caught during the first day to the last day, are all sold together in one big heap.
Obviously, this means that some scallops will be fresh and others – not so much.
These scallops that are caught on day one are left on ice in a large hold where over time, the ice melts and is soaked into the scallops.
The scallops fill up with water and expand, growing larger but because they are filling with salty water. This water also massively dilutes the sweet flavor of the scallops.
This causes a massive issue when the fishing boat finally pulls into the harbor and hands over their scallops. Scallops are then soaked by processors in a preservative, the scallops suck up more water, and then are sold by the pound.
This means that the buyer (that’s you) ends up buying a scallop that is mostly made of water rather than sweet meat.
As a result, these scallops are not nice when eaten raw.
Unlike the ones caught directly from the sea, you can’t just pop them open and eat one raw because they’re filled with bring water instead. This makes them far less appetizing.
So, it’s best not to eat scallops raw
Instead, you will want to buy day-boat scallops. Day-boat scallops are scallops which are sold the same day as they have been harvested from the sea.
This means not only are they super fresh but they’ve had less time to be left on ice to soak in water. You get more meat for your buck and a sweet type of mollusk you can eat raw.
These day-boat scallops are also called dry scallops due to the fact that they are not full of water or chemicals to preserve them.
They can be bought directly from a fishmonger – just make sure you ask for day-boat or dry scallops.
So, in all, you can eat scallops raw – but we wouldn’t recommend you eating trip boat scallops that you find in the supermarket.
These scallops are filled with water which ruins the taste, while dry day-boat scallops are fresh and sweet.
Can You Cook Scallops?
If you don’t want to eat your scallops raw then you don’t have to – they can also be enjoyed cooked too and in a variety of different ways.
First, you will have to shuck your scallops by prising the shell apart and releasing the meat.
You will also have to discard some inedible parts such as the muscle or stomach sack, then rinse out your scallops. Then, they will be ready for cooking!
When it comes to cooking, there are many methods you can use. Scallops can be poached, fried, steamed or baked and they only take a few minutes!
Cooking your scallops for more than just a few minutes will cause them to become really tough and rubbery, so avoid this by only cooking your scallops for a minimal amount of time.
The rule of thumb when it comes to cooking scallops is by cooking one side for two minutes, then the other side for as little as ten seconds to another two minutes.
Your scallops should remain mushy in texture and spring.
There are plenty of recipes you can find and use to cook your scallops, so you can enjoy this kind of seafood fresh or cooked – it’s completely up to you!
What Seafood Can You Eat Raw
So, you can eat scallops raw as long as they are freshly caught.
This can come as a big surprise to some people as we are often warned about the dangers of undercooking seafood.
However, the reality is that there are lots of different types of seafood which can be enjoyed raw.
This includes lots of types of fish including salmon, tuna, and seabass. In fact, raw fish is an important part of my many delicacies and dishes such as sushi, sashimi, poke, ceviche and crudo.
From swordfish to cod, trout to mackerel – there are tons of different dishes you can try out that include raw fish.
And raw seafood is not limited to fish. Just like with scallops, things like crab, ship, eel and octopus can all be enjoyed raw. Even oysters can be eaten raw.
However, before eating any raw seafood, you should ensure that these raw seafoods are properly sourced and cleaned.
These raw seafoods can carry microorganisms and pathogens that can cause serious health issues so it’s vital that any seafood you eat has been properly cleaned.
This means that any diseases the food is carrying has been killed and is now safe for consumption.
So, you can eat raw scallops but it’s important to ensure that these raw scallops are freshly caught and have not been purposefully soaked in water to increase their weight and size.
Soaked scallops are poor in taste and so shouldn’t be eaten raw because the experience is not pleasant.
Eating dry day-boat scallops, however, is a great way to enjoy scallops rather than cooking and eating them. So, next time you buy dry scallops, give them a try and eat it raw!
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