Scallops are considered gourmet seafood. They have a slightly sweet flavor, along with very tender meat.
In fact, they’re referred to as the ‘candy of the sea’. Scallops are a delicious type of shellfish, which will please lobster and crab fanatics.
If you’ve yet to try scallops, or you would like to learn more about scallops, then please, continue reading.
What Are Scallops?
Scallops are a type of shellfish, and they specifically belong to a family of shellfish, called bivalve mollusk.
In laments terms, shellfish that are part of the family, bivalve mollusk, have a two-paired external covering, which is a hinged shell.
This covers the inside, which is technically its adductor muscle and is edible. The muscle can open and close the shell, which provides the scallop with mobility across the seafloor.
Another aspect of the scallop is the ‘roe’, which is also known as the ‘coral’.
Roe is actually the eggs of the scallop and is similar to caviar. In the United States, scallops are sold with just the muscle, and not the roe.
Moreover, Scallops are an invertebrate, meaning they are cold-blooded and have no backbone.
What Type Of Scallops Are Available In The United States?
In the United States, there are numerous varieties of scallops available.
However, there are three main varieties which are usually sold. These are sea scallops, calico scallops, and bay scallops.
Sea scallops are the most popular and common variety of scallops. They are the most commercially sold. One reason for this is because they are more common in the wild, and they can also be found all year long.
They are bigger than the other two varieties and can grow up to two inches in diameter.
Calico Scallops are found in the South Atlantic, and the U.S. Gulf coast during the months of December, to May.
They are very beautiful, and their shells are known for their intricate patterns. They are not as sweet as the next variety of scallops, bay scallops, but are still very popular.
Calico scallops are more difficult to open, as they keep their shells tightly closed. When it comes to cooking them, they need to be steamed first, in order for the shells to open.
The last variety of scallops is called bay scallops. These are found in bays, and estuaries.
However, due to their migration patterns, bay scallops can only be found during the months of October and March.
Bay scallops are the sweetest scallops of all three varieties. They are also the smallest, which makes them more complex to cook, due to their size.
This means overcooking is often a problem with amateur chefs.
What Do Scallops Taste Like?
Now that you have some background information on scallops, it’s time to learn about how scallops taste.
Scallops are said to have a unique, mild taste. They take on flavors very easily.
When they are cooked, they should have a buttery, slightly sweet, delicate flavor. They are frequently very rich, but also light at the same time.
If you are not a fan of overly fishy food, then you will be happy to know that scallops do not have a strong ‘fishy’ taste. They can, however, have a slightly briny, saltwater flavor, but very lightly.
Interestingly, scallops are also a little nutty, with flavors similar to almonds and hazelnuts.
When it comes to the texture of scallops, they have a slightly firm texture, similar to the texture of crab and lobster. They are also chewy, akin to a sea marshmallow.
How To Pick Good Fresh Scallops
If you are fortunate enough to live in an area where you can purchase fresh fish and shellfish, then try to pick up some scallops.
Fresh is always best, and they will taste extra delicious. However, fresh scallops should only be consumed raw, unless you are a very confident and knowledgeable cook.
When picking out scallops, choose ones which have a creamy, white hue.
When selecting your scallops, go for ones with any tones of orange, or slightly pink tones. It signals that these are healthy and fresh.
Avoid any scallops that look matte-white, that means they are not fresh and are not safe.
If you are buying fresh scallops, they should be in a refrigerator that is at, or below, 40 °F. The temperature is crucial in maintaining the freshness of the scallop.
When it comes to storage, scallops can be wrapped in paper. The maximum time you can keep fresh scallops in the refrigerator is 1 to 2 days.
When it comes to recipes, fresh scallops are best consumed raw. Before you consume the scallops, inspect the scallop to ensure that there are no parasites. Otherwise, you will be very unwell.
If you are wanting to cook the scallops, then you should get frozen scallops.
Scallops should be frozen for a minimum of a day, to ensure that any parasites and bacteria has been neutralized.
What Are Wet-Packed And Dry-Packed Scallops?
In the supermarket, you can buy two types of frozen scallops: wet-pack scallops, and dry-pack scallops.
Wet packed scallops are treated in a solution that contains phosphate. The purpose of this is to extend the shelf life of the scallops, so that they will last for longer.
The treatment causes the scallops to contain a lot of water, so be weary when cooking. It can also make the scallops look white, and in some cases, can alter the taste.
Some wet-pack scallops have a soapy taste, while others can taste slightly ‘off’. Of course, this is not the case with every wet-packed scallops, but it is good to be mindful of your purchase.
Dry-pack scallops are naturally perceived. This means they do not have additional preservatives.
Unlike wet-pack scallops, they will have an ivory beige color, look a little gray, and be sticky.
When it comes to taste, dry-pack scallops taste more like authentic scallops. They taste fresher, and are usually sweeter than wet-pack scallops.
The downside is that they will not last longer, but you can almost guarantee that they will taste better.
Generally speaking, dry-pack scallops are preferred, as their taste and texture is fresher and more authentic than wet-pack, but many people are fans of wet-pack scallops.
How Can I Tell If My Scallops Are Bad?
Whether you are dealing with fresh, or frozen scallops, there are a couple of telltale signs which signal that your scallops are not edible.
Firstly, if your scallops have any hint of ammonia, do not eat them. Whether it’s a faint touch of ammonia, or incredibly smelly – they are not safe, and can make you very unwell.
If the scallops taste metallic, that’s another sign that they should not be eaten.
Scallops should have a faint sweet smell, or they should have an oceanic smell.
To sum up, scallops are a gourmet type of shellfish. They taste slightly sweet, and have a unique taste.
When cooked properly, they should take on a light, butterfly flavor. They do not taste fishy, but they will have a slight saltwater essence. Do not consume any scallops that have any smell, or taste, of ammonia.
Also, avoid any scallops that have a metallic taste and smell.