Scallops are a popular shellfish like oysters and clams. They have a high nutritional value and a distinct flavor which makes them a popular seafood delicacy. However, they should be avoided by people who have a history of shellfish allergy. Read on to learn more about scallops and to discover delicious recipes that use them in various ways.
What are Scallops?
Scallops belong to the taxonomic Pectinidae family. They are classified as bivalve mollusks which means that their inner muscle is covered by two shells. The inside of the shell has a white adductor muscle (the part that is consumed) and an orange section called the coral (not typically eaten in the United States). Although scallops are available all year round, their main harvesting season is at the end of fall and into winter.
Varieties of Scallops
There are two varieties of scallops: Bay scallops and Sea scallops. The Bay variety is smaller in size and softer compared to the Sea variety, which is larger and can grow up to two inches. Price-wise the Bay variety is less expensive compared to Sea scallops. Bay scallops are mainly found in bays, creeks, and shallow waters of the East Coast, while Sea scallops are found all across the globe in icy, deep-sea waters up to 200 meters deep.
Over the past few years, the scallop population has decreased in the US therefore, this tender delicacy is often imported from countries including Mexico and China.
Flavor of Scallops
Scallops have a sweet yet briny flavor and a delicate texture similar to white fish. If cooked perfectly they are smooth and soft and instantly melt in the mouth.
Benefits of Scallops
Scallops are highly nutritious; they are low in fats and calories, but high in protein, vitamins, and minerals. Many pieces of scientific research prove scallops to be a good source of antioxidants that protect our bodies against multiple diseases.
Use of Scallops
The cooking method for scallops depends on whether it’s a Sea or Bay scallop. Bay scallops are more delicate and sweet, therefore they are gently poached or sautéed. Sea scallops are tougher and are usually seared to give a crisp texture. However, both varieties can be grilled on skewers. Try out our recipe for Seared Scallops with Lemon Butter Sauce for a splendidly classic meal.
Scallops have a short cooking time of around 4 minutes and need to be served immediately, as overcooking can make them rubbery. Whether it’s a warm bowl of soup, creamy risotto, or a bed of fresh pasta the incorporation of scallops takes these dishes to the next level. Try out our recipes for Sous Vide Scallops with Peas and Pasta, and Miso Scallops with Snow Peas for a fancy scallop dinner from the comfort of your own home.