Scallops are a prized delicacy to have in your home menu. They can be a bit tricky to figure out when it comes to selecting and cooking them. While it's preferable to use them fresh, storing them for a short period of time is possible. Here you will learn tips and tricks on how to buy, store, and cook scallops to perfection.
Selection and Storage
Scallops are always sold pre-shucked from the shell. They cannot be kept alive because they must scoot around in the water to live. Scallops should not be pure white, and they should never be stored in water.
Pure white scallops most likely have been sitting in and absorbing water (adding extra weight to the price per pound) or chemicals, causing them to lose nutrients and color. The color of fresh scallops should range from pale beige to creamy pink, and the meat should have a clean, fresh smell with a moist sheen.
Refrigerate scallops immediately after purchase. Ideally, scallops should be cooked or consumed within one day. It is impossible to determine how long those thawed scallops have been sitting on ice in the fish market.
Scallops may be poached before freezing in their own stock and stored in the freezer for up to 3 months. Flash-frozen scallops are also available in grocer's freezer cases.
Unless you are lucky enough to have a nearby thriving fish market close to the ocean source with a good turnover rate, you are probably better off buying flash-frozen scallops and thawing them at home yourself. They do not take long to thaw, and this is what you are buying at the market anyway.
It is best to cook scallops briefly via sauteeing, grilling, broiling or poaching as overcooking makes them tough and rubbery. Bay scallops are excellent eaten raw in such foods as sushi (hotate gai) or ceviche.
Pat scallops dry before adding to a hot skillet to saute. Large sea scallops will take 3 to 5 minutes, while the smaller bay scallops will take only 1 to 2 minutes. Use herbs, spices, and sauces with a light hand so as not to overpower the delicate flavor of the scallops. If you are using them in a chowder, add them last and cook only until they turn white.
There are many interesting new ways to prepare scallops if you can possibly be tired of the traditional scallop recipes. You may substitute scallops for shrimp, crab or lobster in many recipes as well, so feel free to experiment.