The scallop is a tasty delicacy brought to us by the sea. But, while some refer to it as the “candy of the sea,” only few have tried and know the taste of this interesting shellfish.
If you have yet to try the goodness that is a scallop, you’re missing out, my friend. Because even non-shellfish fans can’t get enough of this heavenly seafood! If you’re afraid to try it, thinking it might not taste good, you have come to the right place.
Don’t let your uncertainties overcome you! Today is the day you learn everything there is to know about this tasty shellfish. We’ll cover all the bases – from its definition and types to checking for freshness and cooking methods.
And most importantly, we’ll also talk about what scallops taste like. But in case you’re wondering, they’re sweet, buttery, and absolutely divine.
What Are Scallops?
Scallops are mollusks – meaning they belong to the same family as octopus, clams, and snails. While you’ll only see its small spherical meat when you order it in restaurants, it sits inside two fan-shaped shells in its original state.
To give you an idea what it looks like – remember Little Mermaid? Yeah, her bra is made from scallop shells!
Scallops can be found anywhere under the sea, everywhere in the world, and can grow up to 9 inches in size. These guys are fast-swimmers, too! They also have 50 to 100 tiny eyes spread across the border of the shell opening to help them detect movement.
While the scallop’s entire flesh is edible, we only eat the white part. This meat is just a section of the whole scallop which is called the adductor muscle.
Scallops are super nutritious, too. They’re packed with Omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin B12, Potassium, and Magnesium. They’re made of 80% protein, are low in calories, and completely fat-free!
The Different Types of Scallops
There are three types of scallops – the bay scallops, calico scallops, and sea scallops.
The most common type is the sea scallop which is available everywhere, all the time. They can grow up to 2 inches in diameter.
Bay scallops are wild scallops. They’re a little more rare and are only available between October to March. These guys migrate from April to September. They are the most coveted ones, though, because they’re the sweetest among all three.
Calico scallops are in season from December to May. You will find them in the US Gulf and other Southern Atlantic coasts. These guys have the nicest-looking shells, but a less-sweet flavor. Their shells are also sealed, making them tougher to open.
How to Choose Fresh Scallops
The freshest scallops are the best-tasting ones! Here’s how to tell whether or not the scallop is fresh:
The scallops should be firm and plump. They should also have a creamy white hue. Don’t pick matte-white scallops! Try to look for ones with nice pinkish or orange tones. Those are the colors of the healthiest scallops. These fresh scallops are safe to eat raw.
For cooked scallops recipes, frozen scallops are the way to go. You’ll want to get scallops that have been frozen for at least a day – this assures you that all the bacteria and parasites (if any) have already been neutralized by the cold.
What do Scallops Taste Like?
Scallops taste a lot like their cousins – clams and oysters. They also have the sweetness of crab and lobster. They’re sweet and buttery and have a delicate nutty flavor similar to hazelnuts and almonds. But they don’t have the same consistency.
Scallops, while tender, are also chewy. Be careful when you cook them because they can become rubbery when overcooked.
How to Cook Scallops
While you can boil, grill, and bake scallops, searing them is the best method to bring out all their wonderful flavors. They have such a heavenly flavor already on their own, so you don’t need too much to make it shine brighter. You want the scallops to stand out, so just one or two additional elements will do.
Here are some fantastic ways to elevate the exquisite shellfish even further:
You can never go wrong with the basics: salt and pepper. As I’ve said, scallops already have such a wonderful flavor, all you need are these two seasonings to bring out its’ full flavor.
Cook it in butter. That’s it. No muss, no fuss! The butter adds a rich flavor that makes the scallops even more to die for.
Scallops have a wonderful briny flavor. Give it a little earthiness by adding a bit of garlic! The flavor combination is just fantastic.
Want a refreshing tangy kick to your scallops? Squeeze a little bit of lemon juice on top to get that beautiful acidic flavor. Don’t overdo it, though! You don’t want the lemon to overpower the scallops’ delectable flavor.
Bacon makes everything better, including scallops. Bacon has a strong savory and smoky flavor, and it pairs perfectly with scallops, complementing the sweet, delicate flavor of the scallop.
And while I did say that searing is the best way to cook scallops, they also taste fantastic when deep-fried! It gives the soft and chewy meat a nice crunchy outer layer. The contrast in texture makes it lip-smackingly delicious.
Last of all, a little bit of white wine will give another layer of flavor to your scallops. It makes the heavenly dish even more amazing.