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What Are Scallops? Best Ways to Cook Them and More!

Jan 26th 2023 - Team

What Are Scallops? Best Ways to Cook Them and More!

If you want to learn about this delicious shellfish, you'll need to know what it looks like, where it lives, and most importantly, how to cook it. Read on to find out more about this delicate shellfish!

What Exactly Are Scallops?

Scallops are a type of scallop that is highly valued for their delicate texture and flavor. They are incredibly sweet and soft when cooked properly. You may quickly sear them in a hot skillet, and require very little butter or extra flavor. Whether enormous sea scallops or little bay scallops, a few scallops on a platter elevates dinner to a delectable level.


A scallop shell has a classic fanned-out shape. It is actually associated with maritime décor! But be careful: unlike their bivalve cousins who also have hinged shells, scallops may move over the ocean floor swiftly! They communicated by clapping their shells together. Scallops have brilliant blue eyes as well. Scallops have between 50 and 100 small, bead-like blue eyes along the edge of their shell's opening. This is what they utilize to sense dark, light, and motion, and they even utilize their retinas to focus on light, just like humans.

What Is the Origin of Scallops?

Bay scallops live in reedy seagrasses in bays, estuaries, and shallow seas throughout the East Coast, and many scallops consumed in the United States are imported from China and Mexico. However, indigenous populations have declined in recent decades. Efforts by the Virginia Institute of Marine Science and the founders of Rappahannock Oyster Company to reintroduce Chesapeake Bay scallops have shown great promise. In 2017, they brought down 400,000 scallop seeds from Falmouth, Massachusetts, and are refining their grow-out techniques for commercial harvests. From July through early October, you can also dive for these smaller mollusks in Northwest Florida.

Sea scallops can be found in deep, cold water as deep as 200 meters and they are typically captured in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean, from Newfoundland to Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, in the United States.

When Does Scallop Season Begin?

Scallop harvesting peaks in the late fall and winter. They're usually accessible all year. However, look for them in the last few months of the year for the freshest catch.

How to Cook Scallops

Scallops should not be overcooked or they will become rubbery. Fortunately, scallops cook rapidly. Prepare the remainder of your meal ahead of time because the scallops will only take four minutes to cook and must be served promptly.

  • Sea and bay scallops are best cooked in a hot pan on the stovetop.
  • Remove the side muscle from each scallop. Pat dry, and season with salt and pepper if it is still attached.
  • Cook the scallops for two minutes per side in a skillet. You may use it with olive oil or butter.
  • Alternatively, baking, grilling, and broiling are all excellent cooking methods for cooking scallops.

What Are the Different Flavors of Scallops?

Although scallops appear delicate, they are surprisingly sweet and they should smell like the ocean (in a good way) while raw, and they should retain hints of this brininess when cooked. Keep in mind that they are quite rich, so you won't need to eat too many of them. This is excellent news given how pricey they are and when cooked properly, scallops are smooth and soft, melting in your mouth.

Types of Scallop

The two most common varieties are the "small bay scallop" and the "bay sea scallop". Both of them have an uneven form while the other variety is called the "diver scallops".

Bay Scallop

Because of its modest size, the bay scallop is the adductor muscle that hinges on the two shells and the coral (ovary or roe) is the only edible portion of the bay scallop. A typical bay scallop measures around half an inch across.

Sea scallops

Sea scallops are three times the size of bay scallops. They can grow to reach two inches in diameter. They're a touch chewier than bay scallops, but they're still soft.

Diver sea scallop

Diver sea scallops may be listed as a seafood specialty on restaurant menus because it is collected by hand by a scuba diver rather than machine dredged. This justifies the increased expense. Especially since diving is better for the environment because no machine disturbs the underwater flora and animals.

Recipes for Scallops

Even though the cooking procedure is straightforward, you can add some intriguing tastes to your scallop dish. Scallops can be seen on menus all around the world. You can try scallop recipes from all over the world!

  • Seared Scallops With Creamy Grits
  • Traditional French Scallops With Sage Cream
  • Bay Scallops With Garlic

Where Can I Buy Scallops?

Fresh scallops are normally sold by the pound, whether they are bay or sea scallops and most luxury markets sell scallops, but a fish market is a safer bet.

Scallop packaging includes the word U (for "under") and a number or range of numbers indicating the number of scallops per pound (for example, "U-10," which means you're receiving less than 10 scallops per pound).

Pre-packed scallops have a pure and concentrated flavor, are fresher, and have a shorter shelf life. Wet-packed scallops sit in a brine solution meant to extend their shelf life and will be somewhat slick. After that, give the scallops a good rinse before using them to get rid of the brine and preservatives used in the packaging.

Make sure you're receiving what you pay for: all quality scallops should be slightly diverse in size, much like all animals of the same species, and not be perfect cylinders. Fake scallops are usually produced with a circular cookie cutter and these phony scallops will look identical to one another. Fake scallops will also appear more substantial and dense. This indicates that they are composed of shark meat.