Wondering what are scallops? Scallops are delicious and versatile seafood that you can cook in various ways. They are a good source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, and they are low in calories and fat. In this 'Scallops 101', you'll find information, recipes, how to prep, and more.
What are Scallops?
Scallops are a type of shellfish that belong to the family of bivalves, which also includes clams, oysters, and mussels.
They have two symmetrical, fan-shaped shells that are connected by a hinge.
The edible part is the adductor muscle, which is the muscle that opens and closes the shell.
They can range in size from small bay scallops to large sea versions and are found in oceans all around the world.
There are three main types of scallops: bay scallops, sea scallops, and calico scallops.
Bay scallops are the smallest type of scallop and are typically found in shallow, warm waters along the Atlantic coast. They are usually harvested in the summer months and have a sweet, delicate flavor.
Sea scallops are the largest type of scallop and are typically found in deeper, cooler waters. They are harvested year-round and have a meatier texture and a slightly sweet, briny flavor.
Calico scallops, also known as Argopecten gibbus, are a smaller type of scallop that are found in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. They have a unique, shell-like appearance and a mild, sweet flavor.
King scallops are a type of scallop that is found in the North Atlantic Ocean. They are the largest type of scallop, with a shell that can grow up to 12 inches in diameter. King scallops are prized for their sweet, delicate flavor and firm texture.
When choosing scallops, consider the recipe you plan to use them in, as the different types can have a significant impact on the final dish.
How to Prep Scallops
Before cooking scallops, it's important to prepare them properly.
Most come with a small side muscle attached that you'll need to remove before cooking. To do this, gently pull the muscle off the side of the scallop and discard it.
If the scallops have any roe (the orange part), you can remove it if desired.
If your scallops are not already cleaned, you'll need to rinse them under cold water and pat them dry with paper towels.
How to cook scallops
Scallops are a highly versatile ingredient and you can cook them in a variety of ways, including seared, grilled, sautéed, poached, and baked.
TIP: When cooking scallops, it is essential to avoid overcooking them, as this can cause them to become tough and chewy. Scallops cook very quickly, so it is crucial to keep a close eye on them while cooking.
You can try pan-frying, grilling, baking, and poaching your scallops.
- Pan-frying: This is the most common way to cook them. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add a tablespoon of oil. Season them with salt and pepper. Add them to the skillet and cook for 2-3 minutes per side, or until golden brown and cooked through. Try these Pan Seared Scallops with Lemon Butter.
- Grilling: Preheat your grill to medium-high heat. Brush them with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill them for 2-3 minutes per side, or until golden brown and cooked through. Try these grilled scallops.
- Baking: Preheat your oven to 400°F. Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Drizzle them with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake them for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through.
- Boiling/Poaching: Bring a pot of water to a simmer. Add a tablespoon of butter, a lemon slice, and a sprig of thyme to the pot. Season them with salt and pepper. Add them to the pot and poach for 3-4 minutes, or until cooked through. Try these Garlic Butter Boiled Scallops.
Choosing and Storing
Choosing: When selecting scallops, look for those that are firm and shiny with no discoloration or unpleasant odor.
Fresh ones should have a slightly sweet aroma, and the meat should be slightly translucent with no visible browning.
Storing: You can store scallops in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. You'll need to place them into an airtight container lined with paper towels.
Scallops are not only delicious but are also a healthy food choice. They are an excellent source of lean protein, vitamins, and minerals, including vitamin B12, magnesium, and potassium.
They are also low in calories and fat and contain a high concentration of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for heart health.
Scallops are a delicious and versatile seafood delicacy, and you can cook them in various ways. They come in different varieties and offer several nutritional benefits, making them an excellent addition to any diet. Whether you're a seafood lover or new to the world of scallops, there's no denying the unique flavor and texture that this shellfish brings to the table. Try them in these tasty recipes!