Ever wondered what do scallops taste like? Do they taste like fish, do they taste similar to crabs and lobsters, or do they have their own unique taste?
As someone who’s never tasted scallops before, you can feel a little left out, considering that it’s a popular seafood item used by many renowned chefs around the world.
So, let’s put your curiosity at ease and find out everything there is to know about scallops!
What Do Scallops Taste Like?
Scallops have a mild and unique taste, which allows them to absorb the flavor of the ingredients they are cooked with. When cooked properly, scallops have a delicate, buttery, and somewhat sweet flavor.
They taste rich and light at the same time and are quite succulent. They don’t have an overpowering fish-like taste, however, they do have a briny, saltwater flavor profile. They taste somewhat similar to crabs, but they have a firmer texture.
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What Are Scallops?
Scallops are a bivalve mollusk, which means that their protective covering is a two-part hinged shell. This ridged shell is what protects and encases a soft-bodied invertebrate.
Scallops belong to the group of animals called Phylum Mollusca, which includes squid, oysters, mussels, and clams.
A scallop has two edible parts – the meat or the adductor muscle and the roe or coral. The coral is eaten as a delicacy in many parts of the world, however, in the US, you’ll likely only find the meat of the scallop.
Where Do Scallops Come From?
Scallops are cosmopolitan, which means that they are found in all the oceans around the world. However, they are never found in freshwater. They are found near bays and at the bottom of the sediments of oceans.
They are harvested with a great deal of care. Once harvested, the alive scallops die pretty quickly. The UK, the US, Japan, Canada, and South Korea are known as major scallop exporters across the world.
How to Pick Out Scallops
Here are some tips that can help you pick out the best scallops:
- Choose scallops that are lump and that hold in shape as they are the freshest.
- Try to pick fresh raw scallops for the best quality. If you can’t find fresh ones, buy dry-packed scallops.
- Another way to tell if the scallops are fresh is by sniffing them. They should have a saltwater smell.
- Make sure to buy scallops that are creamy-white and shiny and stay away from the ones that have turned bright white and have a matte look.
- Try to look for scallops with a slight pink or orange tinge as those scallops are the healthiest.
Are Scallops Shellfish?
Yes, as mentioned above, scallops are a type of shellfish that belong to the mollusks subgroup. Mollusks are soft-bodied invertebrates that are enclosed in a shell. Other mollusks include oysters, mussels, and clams.
Tips on Cooking Scallops
Here are some helpful tips on cooking scallops:
- If you’re about to cook wet scallops, make sure to roll them around on a paper towel first. This will dry off the moisture from their surface, which can interfere with the searing process.
- Keep a light hand on the cooking oil; don’t put so much oil that the scallops drown in it. The oil should only cover the bottom of the pan.
- Use a nonstick pan to cook the scallops.
- Once you put the scallops in the pan, don’t shake the pan. Let the scallops sit in the pan and sizzle.
- Once the scallops turn brown, leave them in the pan for about 20 seconds, then squeeze them a little to check if they’re lightly firm.
- Since scallops are pretty easy to overcook, make sure to take them off the flame right away. This is because the soft scallops’ texture will become too rubbery and hard to chew if they are overcooked.
Types of Scallops
Here are the three common types of scallops available in the US:
Sea scallops are the most common commercially sold scallops in the US. They can grow up to around 2” in diameter.
As suggested by their name, bay scallops are typically found in shallow bays and estuaries. They are seasonal and are available from October through the end of March. Bay scallops are the tiniest and the sweetest types of scallops. However, cooking them is a bit difficult due to their small size; they’re pretty easy to overcook.
You can find calico scallops off the U.S. and Southern Atlantic gulf coasts. They are small like bay scallops, but not as sweet as them. Moreover, their shells remain tightly closed. This results in an additional cooking step in which you have to steam them first to get their shells to open.
How to Store Scallops
For fresh raw scallops, wrap them in a damp paper towel and store them in your fridge for up to 2 days. Make sure to set the temperature below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
After 2 days, either cook the scallops or store them in your freezer. For the best taste, make sure to consume the frozen scallops within 3 to 8 months.
The Bottom Line
I hope you enjoyed reading this article on “what do scallops taste like?” As discussed, they have a unique and mild taste that has a hint of sweetness. Make sure to follow the buying and cooking tips that I’ve mentioned above to make the most of any scallop dish.