Does the thought of perfectly pan seared scallops make your mouth water? Do golden brown fried scallops always remind you of summer? And bacon wrapped scallops… forget about it.
If you love these treasures from the sea, you’re not alone. Being from the Northeast, fresh scallops are a delicacy we are lucky to have available locally, and is one of our absolute favorite seafoods. They don’t only Not only do they taste great, but they’re also healthy and a breeze to make at home.
We’re here to answer all your searing questions about scallops so you can master the art of cooking seafood at home.
First things first, what are scallops anyway? Are they a fish, a crustacean, or a category all their own?
Simply put, a scallop is a type of shellfish.
If you want to get more specific, scallops are a bivalve mollusk of the Pectinidae family. They are related to clams, mussels, and oysters and thrive in the cold waters of the North Coast.
A scallop has two shells, top and bottom. Inside this shell is the creamy white or pale ivory adductor muscle that is responsible for opening and closing the shell, which is the part that we eat! There is also the abductor muscle (different from the adductormuscle, the part we eat) which is edible but extra tough. This side muscle peels off easily and is usually removed before cooking..
Yes! There are many varieties of scallops. The two main types of scallops you should know about are: Atlantic Sea Scallops (Placopecten magellanicus) and Bay Scallops (Argopecten irradians).
The former are found in deep, cold waters along the Atlantic coast from the Mid-Atlantic to the US/Canada border, and can be harvested year-round. They are often significantly larger than bay scallops but can have a meatier texture.
Bay scallops, on the other hand, aren’t found on the deep ocean floor. They are often found in the bays and shallow waters of the East Coast of the U.S. and are smaller in size but are known for being extremely tender and sweet.
Both types of scallops are delicious and many people choose what’s available to them depending on their location and the season. Scallops are commonly caught during the fall and winter months.
Now, if you’ve never eaten a sea scallop before you are probably curious what they taste like. And we’re here to shed a light on why they’re so popular!
Around here, we call scallops “Sea Candy” because of their natural, incredibly sweet flavor. Scallops have a clean, light briny flavor and succulent, tender texture. However, they aren’t overly “fishy”.
If you like crab, shrimp, or lobster, you’ll probably enjoy the texture and flavor of scallops.
Yes! Scallops are high in lean protein, low in calories, and a good source of vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids, which is a major reason why seafood and shellfish can make a great addition to your diet.
While salmon is the “poster child” for seafood nutrition, scallops, and shellfish in general, also have some great health benefits. Shellfish are an excellent source of lean protein and most of the dietary fat found in shellfish are heart-healthy Omega-3 fatty acids. They are rich in micronutrients and low in saturated fat.
A single serving of raw scallops (about 4-5 large scallops) has only 59 calories and .4 grams of fat but packs in 10 grams of protein.
Now that you know all about scallops, it’s time to try your hand at cooking them! Luckily, it’s very easy to cook scallops to your liking.
Whether you buy your scallops online or at the grocery store, you should always make sure they are “dry scallops''. These types of scallops are free from chemicals and contain no added water.
You should avoid "wet" scallops whenever possible, which are chemically treated and plumped up with added water to appear bigger than they really are. These chemicals not only negatively affect the flavor of the scallop, but also how they cook in the kitchen.
The superior quality of dry-packed scallops are always worth the extra investment.
There are a few ways to tell if a scallop is fresh. No matter if they’re fresh or frozen you should take note of their color, texture, and smell.
Color: A fresh scallop is creamy white and pale.
Texture: It should be firm to the touch, not excessively slimy or sticky.
Smell:They should smell faintly briny, but never fishy.
If there’s one thing to know about how to cook scallops, it’s that moisture is the enemy. You should always pat your scallops dry with a paper towel to rid them of any excess moisture before searing. This ensures you will get a beautiful caramelization on each side.
After your scallops are nice and dry, it’s time to season them. You never want to overpower the delightfully sweet flavor of this shellfish, so it’s best to keep things simple. Some salt and fresh cracked black pepper and salt are all you need. However, you can also add a dash of garlic powder or incorporate ingredients like dry white wine or maple syrup to accentuate their natural sweetness. Serving with a lemon wedge never hurts, either.
There are many different ways to cook scallops. Many people prefer searing them on the stovetop (whatever your pan preference should work just fine) on medium-high to high heat, but you can also bake, broil, or grill them.
You can even try your hand at making bacon wrapped scallops in the air fryer! Most experts agree that these shellfish only take upwards of 5 minutes max to cook, so you want to keep an eye on them, as they cook quickly!
You want to avoid overcooked scallops at all costs, as they can be hard,chewy, and unsatisfying.
Here are some of our favorite scallop recipes you can try the next time you’re craving this succulent shellfish:
When a scallop is harvested from the ocean, it is still hidden within its shell. In order to get the treasured scallop meat that you enjoy in restaurants and at home, it must be shucked (similar to clams and oysters).
This scallop shucking almost always takes place on the fishing and the shells are thrown back into the ocean to re-enter the ecosystem.
If you are curious what this process looks like, here is a video of our chef shucking a live scallop.
This easy-to-make appetizer that combines tender, juicy scallops with crispy, savory slices of bacon. This recipe involves wrapping large sea scallops with half slices of bacon, securing them with toothpicks, and then baking them until the bacon is crispy and the scallops are cooked through. You can even make air fryer bacon-wrapped scallops if you have the equipment.
This simple recipe can be enjoyed year-round. The shellfish is caramelized to perfection with a bright, lemon herb butter sauce to accent their sweet flavor.
This delicious and easy-to-make scallop dish will become your new go-to recipe next time you’re craving seafood! It’s sweet with buttery garlic and a golden crunch from the secret ingredient - oyster cracker breadcrumbs!
Ready to try these recipes for yourself? Get succulent scallops and more of your favorite seafood delivered to your door from North Coast Seafoods.
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