Sea scallops are popular seafood items. Prized by cooks and diners, they are considered by many to be the most appealing of the shellfish. The premium products among scallops are the largest specimens, which have a delicate flavor and tender texture. Scallops are at their peak flavor when fresh, but may also be frozen.
Scallops are bivalve mollusks. Various members of the scallop family are found worldwide. The edible portion is the adductor muscle of scallops. The muscle is larger and more developed than most shellfish because they are active swimmers. Scallop shells are symmetrical, attractive and highly collected by sea shell enthusiasts. Scallops can swim by rapidly opening and closing their shells. This method of propulsion is used as a escape technique when threatened.
Commercial Scallop Harvesting
Scallops thrive off the mid and North Atlantic Coast of North America. Here scallops are found in offshore waters out to the continental slope. Ports that are important to the scallop industry range from Glouster, Massachusetts down to Virginia Beach, Virginia. Cape May, New Jersey, Chincoteague Island Virginia and Virginia Beach all have active fleets of scallop boats. Scallops are trawled or dredged, and quickly returned to port or shucked at sea and kept on ice for the trip ashore. The commercial scallop fishery in the USA is heavily regulated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Scallops are prepared in a variety of ways. Their delicate flavor and texture allow for a variety of cooking methods. They can be easily breaded and fried, sautÈed, broiled or used in seafood soups, stews, chowders or salads. One of the most popular recipes calls for scallops to be wrapped in bacon, then broiled.
The scallops’ versatility in taste lends itself well to various cuisines from around the world. In addition to American dishes, sea scallops are a frequent ingredient of Asian, Mediterranean and South American cuisine. Japanese cooking utilizes scallops in sashimi and sushi dishes as well as using the scallop roe as an ingredient.