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Food Guide

Scallops

Buying Tips

Quality fresh scallops are easy to recognize. Fresh scallops smell like the sea, not strong and fishy. Fresh scallops are ivory to light pink in color. Pure white scallops may have been soaking in tripolyphosphate to make them appear plumper. Brown or dull-looking scallops are just too old. Fresh live scallops in the shell are slightly opened, but will close slightly when pinched. They have a fresh odor.

Varieties

Sea scallops grow in deep waters off the East Coast of the United States. Bay scallops (also called Cape Cod scallops), grow in bays and harbors and are smaller. Calico scallops, grown in waters off Florida, are about the size of Bay scallops, and are mechanically shucked and partially cooked. Scallops are also imported fresh from countries such as China and Peru. Scallops are available shucked and, rarely, live in the shell. Their mild-flavored orange roe is sometimes sold along with the scallop meat.

Preparation, Uses, & Tips

Scallops cook quickly and toughen with heat. Small scallops can overcook in a very short time. The secret to successful scallop cookery is to not overcook them.

Trim off any tough connective tissue. If any roe is attached, leave it on the piece and cook along with the scallop.

Marinating

Place scallops in a tangy marinade of olive oil and lemon juice. Cover and refrigerate for one hour.

Pan frying

Rinse scallops and pat dry with paper towels. Dredge in flour and spices if desired. Heat a frying pan until hot and add oil. Add scallops, making sure they are not crowded in the pan, and fry, turning occasionally, for 3 to 5 minutes. Scallops are done when opaque in the center.

Deep frying

Pour oil into a wok or deep fryer; it should be at least 1 1/2 inches (about 3.8cm) deep, and the cooker should be less than half full of oil. Heat oil to 375°F (190°C), using a thermometer to monitor temperature. Dip scallops in batter, drain, then slip them into hot oil. Cook until brown, 2 to 3 minutes.

Poaching

Rinse and drain scallops. Bring a small amount of poaching liquid, consisting of water or broth, and herbs and spices, to a simmer. Slip scallops in, then cover pan and keep liquid at a simmer until scallops are opaque in the center, 4 to 5 minutes.

Grilling

String scallops on a skewer or place them on perforated foil, 4 to 6 inches (about 10 to 15cm) above prepared coals or fire. Baste with butter, oil, or marinade, and close hood of grill. Cook just until opaque and moist on the inside, 3 to 4 minutes.

Storing

To store scallops, unwrap, place in a bowl covered with a wet paper towel, and refrigerate, prepare, and eat them the same day. Store frozen scallops, double wrapped, in the freezer for up to two months. To thaw, unwrap, place scallops in a bowl or pan, cover, and let thaw overnight in the refrigerator. To thaw more quickly, wrap scallops in waterproof plastic and place them in a sink with cool running water, allowing about 1/2 hour per pound (about 454g). For fastest thawing use the defrost cycle of your microwave allowing 2 to 5 minutes per pound (about 454g) with equal standing time in between zaps. Scallops are easier to overcook than other shellfish, so be sure not to pre-cook them in the thawing process.

Nutrition Highlights

Scallops, 5–6 large or 15 small (3 oz.) (85g) (raw)

  • Calories: 75
  • Protein: 14.3g
  • Carbohydrate: 2.0g
  • Total Fat: 0.65g
  • Fiber: 0.0g

*Excellent Source of: Selenium (18.8mcg) and Vitamin B12 (1.3mcg)

*Good Source of: Magnesium (47.6mg)

When cooked (fried, breaded), scallops provide 0.135 grams of omega-3 fatty acids, derived from ALA (0.135g), per 100 grams of scallops.

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The information presented in the Food Guide is for informational purposes only and was created by a team of US–registered dietitians and food experts. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements, making dietary changes, or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2020.