Scallops are an absolute favorite of mine. When I’m out for a meal in a restaurant I usually find myself ordering a steak or other meaty type dish for my main course. But for a starter or appetizer my go-to order is fish. And if they’re on the menu, that usually means scallops. To my dismay however I think I’m in the minority. If you are a foodie, your curiosity is probably tickled by the idea of scallops, but I find that a lot of people have not taken the plunge and I’m asked quite regularly – what do scallops taste like? Well, very few people have actually acted on their curiosity and gone out of their way to get them. Even if you do not like seafood, ignoring this shellfish means you would be missing out on something delicious.
In this article, we will discuss what scallops actually taste like (and a few other pointers like preparation and the best types to buy if you want to try your hand cooking them at home). To sum it up in a few words, they taste divine! They come from the family of mollusks, along with snails, clams, and oysters.
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Types Of Scallops
Before you get to know what do scallops taste like, it’s logical to explore their varieties. In general, you will come across three variants:
- Sea scallops
- Bay scallops
- Calico scallops
In terms of commercial popularity, sea scallops rank first. These shellfishes can grow up to two inches in diameter.
Bay scallops are generally found in bays and shallow estuaries. In terms of size, they are the smallest. Besides, bay scallops are sweeter than any other variety.
However, the minute size makes them difficult to cook. Since they are seasonal, you would find them mostly around March and October.
Although calico scallops are small, just like the bay scallops, their shells remain tightly closed. Compared to bay scallops, they lack sweetness.
Besides, they involve a two-step process during cooking. To open up the shells, you need to steam them first.
What Do Scallops Taste Like?
The taste of scallops is similar to oysters and clams. However, they also carry the sweetness that you would generally find in lobsters and crabs. Along with a buttery and sweet taste, you would also cherish the nutty, delicate flavor, which is similar to almonds and hazelnuts.
However, the consistency of this taste and flavor may vary. Besides being chewy, scallops are tender too. Cooking scallops calls for expertise, as they may become rubbery in case you overcook them.
Scallops can seamlessly absorb flavors and have a mild taste. Therefore, you might find a ‘rich’ and ‘light’ taste in scallops at the same time. Besides, they are succulent.
Although scallops do not smell too much like fish, they carry the saltwater essence. You might compare the taste of scallops to that of lobsters and crabs, but they have a firmer texture.
Some people also remarked that scallops taste like mild white fish. However, they do have some flavor that you would find in crabs.
If you’re ready to give them a try, we’ve found these sensational Jumbo Sea Scallops from Maine. These are Diver Scallops that are shipped fresh!
Alternatively here are some more budget friendly frozen scallops. Still delicious, but a bit more wallet friendly!
Why Do Scallops Smell Fishy?
As stated before, the taste of scallops is similar to that of lobsters or crabs, considering its mildness. In general, you should know that scallops do not have a strong smell of fish.
In case you find a strong fishy smell in scallops, it indicates that they are spoiled. After all, scallops should not be smelling of anything at all. You should only find the slight oceanic odor in these shellfish or a mild sweet smell.
Why Do Scallops Taste And Smell Like Ammonia?
In case you find scallops smelling of ammonia, do not eat them as they are spoiled. You may get this smell of ammonia from cooked as well as raw scallops. Avoid consuming scallops at the slightest smell of ammonia.
How Can You Tell That Scallops Are Bad?
Among all the variants of shellfish available in the market, scallops are one of the most perishable ones. In most cases, the shells are removed for packaging before the fishing boats reach the shore.
However, in case you reside in coastal areas, you may come across fresh scallops that are farmed, or found in the wild. In case you find scallops in any of the following conditions, there are high chances that they may be spoiled.
- Scallops develop a brownish tint or hue over them.
- The odor is pungent or strongly fishy.
- You find the taste or smell of ammonia in them.
- They appear to be dull, slimy, or sticky.
- The edges are frayed and are not cylindrical or round.
- The shell of scallops does not close when you tap it.
- After being frozen, the packaging contains a lot of frost.
How To Prepare Scallops
Scallops Taste Profile
Mostly, you will come across bay scallops and sea scallops at the stores. Since sea scallops come in larger sizes, you can sear them. On the other hand, you need to quickly fry bay scallops, or toss them in sauces before serving. In case you are wondering what do scallops taste like, have a look at the taste profile of scallops.
The sweet quality of seared scallops can be expressed as 9/10. When properly prepared, the shellfishes taste awesome. In a typical serving, you would require three sea scallops of large sizes.
Scallops are not naturally salty. Therefore, they fare 2/10 when it comes to a salty taste. During the searing process, the flesh gets sweetened. However, if you love salted food, you may add a bit of table salt. It is recommended not to carry out any heavy seasoning with these morsels.
When uncooked, scallops generally smell of the ocean or sea. They may remain slightly salty and fresh. Therefore, they are 0/10 when it comes to sourness. In case the scallops smell sour, it’s advisable to avoid them.
In terms of bitterness, scallops rate 0/10. Also, they tend to become flavorless and dense in case you overcook them.
Now that you know what scallops taste like, you should be interested in purchasing these tasty shellfishes. Scallops can be wet or dry-packed when you purchase them from the market. To extend the shelf life, a phosphate solution is used to treat wet-packed scallops.
They may turn white after absorbing water from this solution. However, if you want naturally preserved scallops devoid of any extra preservatives, you should buy dry-packed scallops.
These scallops come with an ivory-beige hue and may be slightly sticky. You should make any purchases depending on your preferences. Bon appetit!
Read also: What Does Crab Taste Like?