If you never tried scallops, do it right away!
I know many people feel a bit squeamish when it comes to eating seafood, especially when it has a slimy texture that scallops have, but once you try it, you are sure to overcome that problem.
After all, the taste matters the most when it comes to eating anything! And, oh boy, do scallops taste good when fresh and well prepared!
I must tell you that answering a seemingly simple question “What do scallops taste like?” is really not easy at all. Of course, I can say that they are succulent and tasty, but, although it is 100% true, that would not tell you much, wouldn’t it?
Therefore I must try and be a lot more descriptive than that.
Seafood is very healthy for you, and for that reason, I will also tell you a bit about the health benefits of eating scallops! Join me; you will not regret it!
Scallops One on One!
When I first tried scallops, I did not really know what they are! Maybe that is why I have not felt reluctant to try them in the first place. I liked them right away, so I am now very glad I gave them a chance.
If you too do not know what scallops are and where they come from before they end up on your plate, be sure to read this section!
So, what are scallops?
Besides being an elegant dinner entrée, scallops are a type of “free-living” shellfish that can be found in all of the world’s oceans. They are actually a bivalve shellfish, and the part people eat is, in fact, a big muscle these small sea creatures use to open and close the shell. In some other countries, people also eat the orange-fleshed coral.
The two most popular varieties of scallops in the United States are sea scallops and bay scallops. The former ones are larger, but the later ones, although a bit smaller, taste much sweeter.
Scallops have been a valuable food source since long ago, and in modern days many species are farmed as aquaculture as well.
The meat of these bivalves, or to be more precise – their adductor muscle, is now sold as seafood in most markets and stores. They are found on most restaurant menus and are a favorite dish of many famous chefs.
Their interesting fan-shaped shells are considered a real treasure by all the shell collectors (including my boys who are very passionate shell collectors whenever they are at sea shore) and a real inspiration for artists and decorators worldwide!
If you like the scallops, try the oysters too!
How to Recognize if the Scallops Are Good?
Seafood is generally very tricky to buy if you are not an experienced customer (or a cook). It is very easy to end up with a batch of not-so-fresh scallops that you have paid quite a lot, and you would not like that, wouldn’t you?
Well, do not skip this part, and you will eliminate all the potential risk of eating bad scallops!
In order to choose the best scallops, try to remember the following tips:
1. Alive Scallops Are The Best!
- When alive, scallops are as fresh as they can be, which is quite logical. However, live scallops are unfortunately very hard to come by these days, especially if you are not currently living in a fishing village.
- If you would be that fortunate to come across live scallops in their shell, you should be able to smell their clean ocean smell. You can check if they are really among the living by tapping the top of their shell which should then shut down on you (watch your fingers!) – That is a sure sign they are alive.
2. Frozen Scallops
- Most often you will buy a pack of frozen scallops at the seafood section in your supermarket. Their color will vary according to the type they belong, and where they were harvested, and while bay scallops should have a pinkish or light orange color, sea ones are most often light pink or cream-color.
- Although frozen, scallops must not appear either mushy or too dry. Try to find the dry-packed scallops as they have not been soaked in a phosphate solution. The phosphate solution makes the scallops look whither but makes them absorb a lot of water and taste a bit soapy as well.
Related: How To Thaw Scallops – The Right Way: Barbara’s Guide To Defrosting Seafood
3. Fresh Scallops
- If you want to buy fresh scallops, make sure that they are a lump and hold their shape. They should smell like saltwater not fishy. If they are already taken out of their shells, scallops should be shiny and creamy white (not bright). If you see a bit of orange or pink color, the scallops are highly nutritious.
Why Should You Eat Scallops?
Scallops are not only tasty but also really beneficial for you to eat.
They are rich in important nutrients such as lean protein, vitamins, and minerals:
1. Lean Protein
- Scallops are about 80 percent protein. One serving (3 ounces) will provide you with approximately 20 grams of protein with just about under 100 calories. The proteins will help you stay fit if you avoid preparing the scallops with other calorie-packed ingredients of course.
2. Vitamin B12
- A 3-ounce serving of scallops will supply you with as much as 75 percent of the daily recommended amount of this essential vitamin. Your body needs vitamin B12 to form red blood cells, to synthesize DNA, secure normal neurological function. This vitamin also secures optimal fat and protein metabolism. It prevents depression and dementia too.
3. Essential Minerals
- Scallops will help you acquire a fair amount of essential minerals such as selenium and zinc. To be more precise, one serving of sea provides 26 percent of the recommended daily dose of selenium and of the daily recommended amount of zinc. Both zinc and selenium will help boost your immunity- selenium as an antioxidant which fights the dangerous free radicals, and zinc as the mediator in about one hundred different enzyme reactions, protein synthesis, and cell division.
4. Omega-3 Acids
- Although the amount of omega-3 fatty acids in scallops is not significant, it is valuable as they cannot be produced by your own body and have to be taken in by food you eat. These acids are indispensable when it comes to proper brain function and development. According to Maryland Medical Center research, Omega acids can prevent heart cancer disease and arthritis too.
What Do Scallops Taste Like?
Most of the people think that scallops must taste like a fish since they are sea creatures as well, but that is not true. Perhaps the taste does resemble the shrimps and lobsters somewhat, but scallops are really unique tasting seafood that taste-wise cannot be equated with any other.
Scallops go by the name of “candy of the sea,” and that is a first true hint of how they really taste – they have a dominant sweet taste and richness in flavor that will drive you to eat them more and more, just like your favorite candies!
When it comes to the texture, it is a bit slimy which can bother you at first. Once you get passed that you will notice that they are actually soft and chewy in a pleasant way. My son compared them to the marshmallows (and he likes to eat the scallops as much as the roasted marshmallows too).
Sea scallops are more sweet, so if you mind that and want the salty taste to be predominant, you should stick to the bay scallops instead rather than the sea ones. Tastes are different even in my family – my hubby prefers the mild sweetness while I enjoy the salt water smell.
It is very important to cook the scallops in the right way as to bring out the richness of flavors and preserve their tenderness and moisture. If you can, you should try eating a raw scallop at least once in your life as that is an only way to feel their authentic flavor that gets masked with spices and additional flavors most recipes call for.
How to Prepare and Cook Scallops
Now that you know how tasty scallops can be, you can get over whatever reason you have had not to try them before, and start enjoying them. In order not to be disappointed, you need to know how to properly prepare scallops too.
Need a new pan? Check this out!
Before the actual cooking you need to wash the scallops well by rinsing them with cold water.
You can detach the muscles from the shell or cook them as they are – that depends on the recipe you have and your personal preference too. Leave the scallops to dry before you proceed with their preparation.
Namely, scallops can change their texture and become a bit tough and rubbery if you overcook them. For the first time, it is enough to bake some scallops in the shell or sear them over high heat for a short time. When searing, the pan needs to be really hot and scallops well dried in order for them to get the brown crust.
How to sear scallops perfectly? This video will teach you!
You can find an array of recipes in the cookbooks or on the internet, or go to a renowned restaurant and try the professionally made scallops.
In any case, do it as quickly as possible because once you try the scallops you will regret every single day you have missed their divine taste!
I am eagerly awaiting to hear your opinions! 🙂