Scallops are a delicately flavored shellfish that can enhance pastas or seafood chowders, but they are also delicious baked or broiled without sauce. To add scallops to your menu, your first step is to buy the freshest ones, and that’s not as easy as you may think.
Look for glossy firm scallops with a sweet smell. Scallops with a strong odor of iodine or sulfur aren’t fresh. Avoid unusually bright white scallops bulging at the sides and melting together as this may be a sign that they have been soaked in water to increase their weight or soaked with phosphates to keep them fresh longer.
Some unscrupulous markets have been known to cut out tiny “bay scallops” from the larger, less-tender sea scallops, or even substitute shark meat for scallops. If all the scallops seem uniform in size and shape, this could be a signal that they’re not what they seem.
How to store scallops at home
Like all shellfish, it is important to keep scallops cold until you are ready to cook them to prevent bacterial contamination. Uncooked scallops should be stored like fresh fish and used the same day you purchase them.
You can freeze raw scallops, but they are better when they are cooked before freezing. Poach them, then freeze them in airtight containers or tightly sealed heavy-duty freezer bags. They should keep for two months if the freezer is set at 0°F or colder. Be sure to thaw frozen scallops in the refrigerator, not at room temperature.
How to prepare scallops
Some purists suggest cutting away the tough connective tissue known as the foot before cooking scallops, but if you’re in a rush, this isn’t necessary since it is edible. Sea scallops are often halved crosswise to make them a more uniform size and they can also be quartered for use in place of bay scallops. Frozen scallops should be thawed in the refrigerator and can then be prepared just like fresh ones. Simply drain any liquid and pat dry.
8 scallop recipe ideas
- Bakescallops in parchment paperalong with sliced vegetables.
- Add bay scallops topasta sauces.
- Skewer sea scallops, top with barbecue sauce, and grill.
- Add scallops to a seafood chowder or stew.
- Toss scallops with breadcrumbs and grated Parmesan, drizzle with olive oil, and broil.
- Add scallops to vegetable stir-fries at the very end of cooking.
- Poach scallops and toss in a citrus dressing.
- Substitute scallops for shrimp in scampi, shrimp marinara, or other shrimp dishes.