What Are Scallops and What Do Scallops Taste Like?
If you have not had the pleasure of eating them before, you might be asking yourself, “What do scallops taste like?”
If you are wondering about their taste and how you would like them, you have come to the right place.
Whether you are venturing out into new waters or simply ready to take the plunge and taste this kind of seafood, we know that you are eager to prepare yourself for this taste of the sea.
While scallops are not exactly the lowest-priced item on the menu, there’s a reason why they command a relatively higher price tag.
This is because they have a soft, buttery texture that boasts of flavor with every bite. What flavor, you ask? Read on to find out.
What Are Scallops?
Scallops belong to the mollusk family. They are usually enclosed in ridged shells that protect the meat and the insides of the mollusk.
In particular, they are bivalve mollusks, meaning they have two hinged shells that protect their interior muscle. They come from the Pectinidae family.
The adductor muscle, often referred to as the ‘nut’ or the white component found in the middle, is the main part of the scallop that people eat.
Depending on the type, the ‘nut’ may also have a bright orange section which is called the coral.
Though many people around the world consume the coral part of the scallop, Coastal Living says that Americans typically discard it.
As a kind of bivalve mollusk, this seafood bears close similarities to other two-shelled seafood variants, namely clams, mussels, and oysters.
Because of this, you may already have an idea of how this shellfish tastes.
Different Types of Scallops
There is a wide range of scallop varieties available on the market. However, they mostly fall under two groups, bay scallops and sea scallops.
Both are found and harvested in the whole of the Atlantic Ocean.
Bay scallops are called so primarily because they are found in the seagrass areas of ocean bays. They have the scientific name Argopecten irradians.
They are smaller in size, and are used in soups, chowders, stews, and salads.
However, consuming them on their own is also acceptable.
On the other hand, sea scallops are the ones you see on fish counters or served in restaurants. The meat of this shellfish tends to be bigger and meatier than its counterparts.
Its scientific name is Placopecten magellanicus. Apart from being grilled or seared, this type of scallop is preferred for sushi or crudo-style dishes.
Although these two kinds are the most popular offerings, there is a third variety of this shellfish called rock scallops. Unlike the bay and sea varieties, rock scallops are found in the Pacific Ocean.
With the scientific name Crassadoma gigantea, rock scallops are those which grow on rocks. Because of this, they are less likely to move or travel, often staying within a particular region or location.
Less accessible, restaurants and home cooks who have access to this type of scallop are those who live within the area as well.
What Do Scallops Taste Like
There are some factors that affect the taste and overall flavor of this seafood. Besides their size and harvesting location, the cooking method and the aromatics used while cooking also affect their taste.
As mentioned, sea scallops are larger and therefore, meatier. They take on a chewier texture. Meanwhile, the bay scallops tend to be smaller.
However, the bay variety also come out sweeter and more tender because of their size.
Both of these have a subtle, sweet and briny flavor that perfectly captures the taste of the sea. Their unique taste is best presented via searing or grilling to bring out their freshness and juiciness.
Cooking with Scallops
There are a number of ingredients that pair beautifully with scallops, many of which perfectly complement their briny taste. Below are some examples.
- Garlic and butter – Normally used in cooking seafood and other shellfish, garlic and butter subdue and temper the taste of saltiness and brininess found in seafood. They also provide an earthy taste. Adding white wine will also elevate the dish.
- Salt and pepper – Seasoning your scallops well with salt and pepper allows their natural flavors and textures to shine. However, when using this approach, you should pat the pieces dry before seasoning and searing. This way, a crust can form underneath, sealing their soft, creamy, and tender centers.
- Flour – Dredging scallops and deep-frying them will make for a yummy snack. These go well with other fried vegetables and a spritz of lemon to give some zest and acidity.
The Bottom Line
Scallops are one of the most versatile ingredients from the sea. Whether you want to try them grilled, fried, or incorporated in your pasta dish, their exquisite taste will surely leave you wanting more.