Our World is 70% water. That 70% water inhabits an enormous number of living organisms. We, humans, tend to refer to some of them as Seafood.
Seafood is a part of our daily meals. You must be familiar with the common seafood staples like crabs, lobsters, shrimps, and oysters, etc. If you're a fan of seafood, you'll probably know what scallops are. For those who don't know, Scallops are bivalve mollusks widely known around the world as seafood delicacies.
They are cosmopolitans and are found deep in the oceans, almost everywhere in the world. Most of the world's scallop production is achieved by Japan and China. Scallops are part of seafood staples and contribute a good deal to the food market and aquaculture.
The name scallop, however, may refer to any of the numerous species of clams, or bivalve mollusks. In the food industry scallop refers to the meat part of the scallops.
What part of the scallop is usually eaten?
Since they are bi-valved, they have two shells. The shell flaps open and close thus helping the scallop in swimming. This movement occurs by special muscles called the adductor muscles. Some scallops do not show motility, but most of them are free living. Scallops are edible as a whole, but mostly their muscle part is eaten.
A single scallop can offer two types of meat. The lighter orange part or meat, and the slightly darker part, the roe.
To make sure that it is safe for eating, usually one day old or frozen scallops are sold in the market. Because of this, any possible parasite is killed, and it is rendered harmless. The scallop can then be used in the recipe. Fresh and healthy scallops are safe to be eaten raw.
The Structure Of Scallops
As mentioned above scallops are bivalve mollusks. They have fan-shaped shells with a ribbed structure. Their shells have beautiful patterns on them and are an object of interest for beachcombers.
Scallops are abundant in nature, that's why you can find their shells scattered on beaches, near the shore. Scallops are of many sizes. Their size mostly ranges from 2-inches to maximum 9-inches in diameter. The most common types of scallops are sea scallops, bay scallops, and calico scallops.
The Sea Scallops are about 1 ½ inches in diameter. They are the most abundant type of scallops and are available throughout the year.
Bay Scallops are a type of wild species of scallops. They are smaller in size and are sweeter in flavor. These scallops are harvested from October to March.
These scallops are mostly known for their beautifully designed shells. Their shells have lovely patterns on them and are used as decorations. Calico Scallops are less sweeter as compared to the above two.
Their season is from December till May. These scallops grow in the US Golf Coasts and the Southern Atlantic. Calico Scallops have their shell completely sealed which is why they have to be opened before use.
What Do They Taste Like?
Scallops closely belong to other mollusks like clams, oysters, and mussels. They have a unique, enticing taste. The meat is sweet, delicate and less firm as compared to clams and oysters. Scallops can be used raw and cooked. Due to its delicate flavor, it is equally enjoyed by seafood lovers and non-admirers.
The adductor muscle is also called 'the nut.' It is called so because scallop meat tastes like hazelnut or almonds.
The taste of scallops can be greatly affected, depending on how it is cooked. Therefore, it is advised that its best if you don't overcook it. Overcooking changes its soft, delicate structure to a more rubbery structure.
However, cooking it lightly gives it a more meaty structure. This flavor is very appealing when combined with some other type of meat, like bacon.
How Are Scallops Harvested?
Scallops, as mentioned before, are cosmopolitans. They are found near the seashore and at the bottom sediments of oceans. However, scallops are not found in fresh water. Harvesting the scallops requires a great deal of care. Scallops also produce pearls. So, they are harvested for their meat and pearls.
A major portion of the world's scallops comes from Japan and China. Scallops are harvested by using dredges called scallop dredges. Unlike other bivalves, scallops die quickly after being harvested.
Nutrition And Health Benefits
Almost all types of seafood contain high contents of vitamin B, omega-3, proteins, iron and other important minerals. This is one of the primary reasons that seafood is a part of our meals. In Scallops case, however, you'll mostly find them in restaurants and fancy meals. But they should really be a part of our daily meals.
Scallops are highly nutritious. They are about 80% protein and are low in calories. Scallops are rich in magnesium and potassium. In every 3 ounces, they provide you with 20 grams of protein along with just 94 calories. What's more, they're delicious!
The vitamin B12 present in them is very helpful in preventing heart diseases like arrhythmia. Potassium helps in the regulation of normal blood pressure, and magnesium lowers the blood pressure.
Similar benefits are provided by clams, and oysters, etc.
Your Guide To Buying Healthy Scallops
Scallops are a vulnerable type of seafood. A scallop after being caught opens its shell. Because of that, its meat part gets exposed to the air and the microbes present in it. Making it less safe for eating.
As a countermeasure, some scallops are dipped in TSP trisodium phosphate before being sold as a market good. It has no harmful effect whatsoever, but the quality of the scallop gets affected.
Therefore, it is recommended that you buy dry packs instead of wet packs. Fresh scallops are also safe, but they are a little expensive than the others sold in the market. Moreover, you'll only be able to find them near the shores. This makes it a bit difficult to find fresh and tasty scallops, but it is worth the effort.
How To Use Them In Your Meal
Scallops are quite versatile when it comes to the ways they can be cooked. You can choose whether you want to bake, stir-fry, grill or sauté them. One of the precautions to keep in mind is that scallops get overcooked really easily. So, if you don't want to lose the soft texture, you'll have to be very careful as to not overcook them.
If you didn't know what scallops are and what do they taste like, now you know. You also know its health benefits and the seasons its available in.
So, If you haven't tried this tasty seafood item yet, now is the time. Try it out and share your thoughts with us in the comments below.