How to Cook Scallops

Scallops are bi-valve mollusks with beautiful shells. Their delectable taste, comparatively inexpensive price, and year-round availability make them the favorite of many people.

The entire scallop is edible, but the portion which many people love to eat most is the adductor muscle that connects the two shells.


Kinds of Scallops


There are many kinds of scallops. These fall under two broad classifications.

Bay scallops are usually found on the East Coast and are very small, with the muscle being only around 1/2 inch in diameter (maybe 100 to 1 pound). The meat is sweeter and juicier than that of the sea scallop.

Sea scallops are larger, averaging at 1 1/2 inches in diameter (maybe 30  to 1 pound). They are less tender and more chewable than the bay scallops, but the meat is just as sweet. Sea scallops are rarer and more expensive than the bay scallops.


Selecting Scallops


You can buy frozen scallops, breaded or plain, all year round. In the East Coast, you can buy fresh bay scallops during fall. Fresh sea scallops are available from mid-fall to mid-spring.

The shells are removed because scallops cannot be kept alive out of water. Sea scallop meat varies from creamy white to pale beige or creamy pink. When buying, look for firm texture, a mild sweet odor, and fresh moist sheen. Don’t buy scallops which are stark white because they may have been soaked in water to increase weight. Refrigerate the scallops immediately and cook them within a day or two.


Tips in Cooking Scallops


  • You can sauté, poach, broil, bake or fry scallops.
  • They cook very quickly. Watch out when they turn from translucent to opaque. This means that they’re done.
  • If you will add scallops to a dish like paella, put them in last or just a few minutes before serving.
  • Don’t overcook scallops unless you want to eat rubber.
  • You can eat bay scallops raw in dishes such as sushi and ceviche.
  • Serve fresh scallops over a bed of green salad leaves. Add virgin olive oil for taste.
  • When you’re grilling or broiling scallops, use maximum heat. This is to make the exterior turn brown while not overcooking the interior.
  • Scallops give out whitish fluid when sautéed. To avoid that, cook them separately and put them in the dish before serving.
  • Poach scallops in milk. Put the scallops in a pan and cover with milk. Place the pan over medium heat. When the milk starts to simmer, the scallops are cooked.