Can You Eat Raw Scallops?

It is known that there are some fishes that you can eat and some you can’t. Sushi is simply raw fish, but only certain kinds of fish.

Not all fish can be eaten raw, however have you ever wondered if you could eat raw scallops. It may be seafood that you hadn’t thought about before.

Can You Eat Raw Scallops1

Eating raw scallops has been up for debate for a while now. There are pros and cons. Therefore, in this article we will be discovering if you can eat raw scallops and whether you have been missing out on something incredible.

Can You Eat Raw Scallops? 

You might be surprised, but you can eat raw scallops. However there are some things you need to watch out for, otherwise the raw scallop could make you ill.

Raw scallops can be enjoyed in a wide range of ways. Normally, the roe is discarded when you are eating raw scallops and you just eat the adductor muscle (that’s the big white part that you normally pan fry). Scallops are quite expensive so you will want to make sure that you are buying. 

How To Eat A Raw Scallop?

It is up to you how you eat your raw scallop. Some people like seasoning it with olive oil or with some lemon and salt.

Yet some fishermen say that you should eat raw scallops right after harvesting them. You shouldn’t season or add anything to them as they are perfectly fresh, so it doesn’t need anything.

Obviously it is completely up to you and how you enjoy eating scallops. You may try one unseasoned and then think that actually it could be better with some seasoning.

A popular dish to serve raw scallops is carpaccio. This dish has been around since the 1950s, and it is very quick and easy to make. All you have to do is slice the raw scallops as thinly as you can.

Then you just need to add vegetables and a dressing. It is really up to you what you add. Common ingredients have included shallots, garlic, tomatoes, olive oil and fresh basil.

Yet you should choose ingredients that don’t overpower the scallop. As the focus should be on the raw scallop, then you can appreciate its flavors. Also it can be easy to overpower a scallop, so just be mindful how you serve your raw scallops. 

Why Should You Not Eat Raw Scallops?

With a lot of foods and especially raw food, you need to be careful that they are fresh and not contaminated. Scallops like other mollusks are really sensitive, as a result they can go off really quickly.

This is also why really fresh scallops can be more expensive than frozen scallops. Yet at least you can be sure that there is no chance of them being contaminated when they are fresh.

Scallops are known to grow in ethuries. This is where rivers merge into the ocean or sea. Sometimes the rivers contain water from treatment plants or even raw sewage.

The issue is then scallops feed on the microorganisms that live in that water. If the water is contaminated, this could then contaminate the scallops. 

If the scallops feed off contaminated water then by eating that raw contaminated scallop the bacteria could be passed onto you. Parasites such as Cholera, Salmonella and E. Coli could be present.

There are more chances of these being present if your scallop is subjected to raw sewage in its water. 

This is why we cook certain foods, as the heat destroys any parasites or pathogens that are present in the food. However medium-rare to rare foods could still be contaminated.

This issue isn’t only with scallops, it is an issue for any mollusks like clams, mussels and oysters. Therefore, your scallops need to be harvested from safe waters if you want to eat them raw.

If you know they are harvested from safe waters, then you don’t need to worry about what your scallop has been feeding on. Then it also makes you feel a little safer about eating them raw. 

The risk of getting ill from raw scallops is quite low. This is because most seafood is regulated. To feel safe, always check for the seal of approval from Seafood Watch, Aquaculture of Stewardship Council or WWF.

Scallops are an expensive item and those who are farming them don’t want to lose money from their scallops becoming contaminated. It is a rare thing to happen, but that doesn’t mean that it never happens.

It is something you need to be at least aware of and take into consideration when you are buying scallops. Hence it is important to think where your scallops come from if you plan to eat the scallops raw.

Where Should You Get Your Scallops From?

Can You Eat Raw Scallops

You want your scallops to come from safe waters that have been tested, because you can feel assured that your scallops won’t be contaminated. Atlantic scallops are harvested from Eastern Canada and the northern part of the East Coast of America.

These scallops are some of the largest to be produced. The scallop farms are typically kept quite safe, so you don’t need to worry about them getting contaminated.

Japan and China are two huge exporters of scallops. Their scallops are either caught in the wild or grown in aquaculture. The aquaculture areas are maintained, so you can be assured that the waters are clean. 

How Do I Know If My Scallop Is Fresh?

When eating raw scallops, you want them as fresh as possible. This can mean live scallops (you can’t get fresher than that), or scallops that have been freshly shucked.

Freshly caught live scallops will still be in their shell. They should smell fresh and watery, while they should also close when touched. Scallops have an extremely short shelf life, So they don’t stay alive long after harvesting.

As a result, live scallops are quite rare to come by, unless you live right by the dock and can buy them as soon as they come in. however they could die on the boat on their way back to shore. Thus, live scallops are a real rarity.

You are more likely to find freshly shucked scallops, sometimes with the roe removed. The scallops will be put on ice and brought straight to shore.

What you should be looking for in a freshly shucked scallop is that it should either have no smell at all or smell fresh and sea like. They can come in a range of colors from light white to a kind of off white color.

They can be light pink and even a very light orange color. Freshly shucked scallop should have a firm almost dry texture like beef or pork. 

Fresh scallops are easier to find the closer you live or are to the sea. It is worth noting that very white colored scallops are actually processed scallops.

This means that the scallop has been soaked in tripolyphosphate. This is a solution that helps give scallops a much longer shelf life and makes them keep a lot of moisture. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Are raw scallops good for you?

Scallops cooked or raw have many health benefits. Scallops are high in omega 3 fatty acids. These are healthy fats that balance your cholesterol. They are also high in magnesium, which can help lower your blood pressure and improve your overall circulation. 

What is scallop sushi?

Scallops are seared on the outside to give them some color and texture. However, they are still raw in the middle. 

Do scallops taste better cooked or raw?

If you cook scallops they should be cooked simply. Scallops naturally have a sweet flavor when eaten raw. However when you cook them this flavor is enhanced, you get a sweet and almost nutty flavor.

Although you have to be careful not to overcook the scallops, otherwise they go rubbery and then they aren’t very enjoyable to eat. 

Final Thoughts

You can eat raw scallops but it isn’t very common. Most people cook their scallops. Raw scallops are quite sweet and if you want to try raw scallops you must be mindful about where you buy your scallops.

You want them as fresh as possible and harvested from clean and maintained waters. Otherwise you risk the possibility of your scallops being contaminated as they have lived and fed off contaminated water that could then make you ill.

It is rare to get ill from raw scallops but you do need to be careful. It isn’t a hugely popular thing to do, but there’s no harm in trying or having a raw scallop to see what the fuss is about.

Jess Smith
Latest posts by Jess Smith (see all)