The most common and popular Scallop species are Bay and Sea Scallops. The Calico Scallops is less known species, which can be caught along the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic.
What is a Scallop?
A scallop is a mollusk that moves itself by closing and opening its shell while at the bottom of the ocean. The part that is edible and tastes sweet is its muscles that they use to open and close their shells. The usual color of Sea and Bay Scallop meats are ivory but some may have a tint of orange in them. This tint of orange came from the algae that it eats or the color that comes from their mature eggs. This orange tint is obviously possible to those egg-bearing females only. Scallops in general are safe to eat. They have this sweet aroma, with translucent and firm color.
Atlantic sea scallop or the Placopecten magellanicus is the largest wild scallop you will find. They can be found in the deepest part of Newfoundland up to North Carolina. Canada is also one of the main sources of sea scallops.
In Alaska, they have three types of scallops: the rock, bay and the Weathervane or Platinopecten caurinus scallops. Usually, they sell scallops frozen and not fresh because they only have a very small commercial scallop fishery.
Know what Scallops to Buy
In purchasing scallops, make sure you are looking for the:
- Dry pack
- Day boat
- Diver scallops
If you are purchasing them in frozen form, make sure it has a label that mentions all the ingredients used in preserving the scallops. Avoid buying frozen scallops that they used sodium tripolyphosphate or STP.
There are also some frozen scallops that have labels “Scallop product water added” in their packaging. American Food and Drug Administration made some guidelines that any frozen scallops that have 80% water added must be labeled properly. Scallops usually have only 75 to 79 percent water.
The phosphate solution makes that scallop looks whiter, plump and softer, which causes the scallop to absorb more water. Therefore, if you buy scallops soaked in this solution, you will end up paying for the excess water and not the actual scallops.
This is one reason why your scallops cooked at home are not as nice as the ones you order in restaurants. In restaurants, they buy their scallops fresh and not frozen.
How to differentiate “Dry” packed or soaked scallop
Those fresh scallops are sold in a tray or bowl; however, check if the water has a milky color because chances are they have been treated. The water must be clear and odorless.
“Dry pack” scallops will have a color from creamy white to a tan. It can be normal to have that strong smell for they are already treated.