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Scallops can be served as both an appetizer or entree, and buying fresh scallops will give you the most flavorful dish. Even when you buy scallops from the supermarket, you’ll need to clean them thoroughly before cooking them to perfection. Here are the simple steps to clean scallops and prepare them for your favorite recipe.
Open up the shell. Begin the shucking process by inserting a knife into the side of the shell to pry it open. Set one side of the shell aside.
Release the scallop from the shell. Carefully slide the knife under the meat of the scallop to remove it from the shell. The meat should slide out easily.
Transfer the scallop meat to the plate. Carefully move the scallop meat from the shell and set it on the plate.
Remove the dark meat. Discard the dark meat from the scallop, leaving the white flesh intact.
Remove the muscle from the scallop. This small piece of flesh can be found near the edge of the scallop; carefully remove it from the main section before preparing your recipe.
Rinse the scallop. Gently rinse the scallop under cold water and set on small plate. Now the scallop is clean and ready for cooking.
Washing scallops before cooking is very important because if they aren’t washed, the meat will have a fishy flavor.
The easiest way to clean shucked scallops is to put them in a bowl of water for 10 minutes and then rinse off the bits of sand on the shell.
Now let’s look at how to prepare, clean, and wash scallops if you bought them whole.
Preparing scallops for cleaning
Follow the below preparation process just before you start to clean and wash the scallops.
Remove frozen scallops from the freezer and thaw them.
Bay and dried scallops
Place bay scallops and dried scallops in a saucepan of simmering water for 3 minutes. Remove bay scallop/dried scallop with a slotted spoon to prevent them from cooking too long, then place on paper towels to drain excess moisture.
How to clean scallops
First, start by removing one side from the scallop shell and then cut open the other half like you would a clam and.
Next, use your fingers to remove the muscle from the other half of the shell and cut off any frills from either end, and discard them.
Then, place the scallops under running water for two to three minutes and wash away any remaining pieces of the shell.
Next, scrub each scallop with a stiff brush to remove any remaining shell pieces, sand, or dirt, and then rinse in cold water once more.
To finish, pat each scallop dry with paper towels and store them in a cool dark place until ready to cook.
If you’re a fan of fresh scallops, you should also be a fan of bringing them. The process will allow the scallops to absorb water and seasonings throughout their WHOLE body – not just on the surface.
So If you want your scallops to absorb water and other seasonings throughout their whole body, then you should soak them before cooking.
Take your clean scallop (or as many as you want to brine) and place it in a container with enough cold water just below where they’ll sit. Place the scallops in a refrigerator and leave them to soak for 24 hours. These scallops will absorb water and seasonings throughout their whole body.
Finally, rinse the brined scallops in cold water to remove any excess salt.
Tip: If you want to soften your scallop then use milk or buttermilk. This also works with squid and shrimp. Place them in a bowl and cover them with plastic wrap. Leave it in a refrigerator for at least 3 hours to soften. After that, the scallops will cook very fast.
How do you know if a scallop is bad?
If you notice an “off” odor, a slippery texture, or a color change, then the scallop is bad. Also, bad scallops can make you very sick and you could end up in the hospital. So, throw the scallops out immediately.
And scallops that are left for more than five days have lost their firmness and they’re past the prime for scallop eating, according to the New England Aquarium.
For best results, use only fresh, clean scallops.
Easy way to cook scallops
An easy way to cook scallops is to add a small amount of olive oil or butter to a frying pan and when it melts, add the scallops and cook them for 2 minutes on each side.
This will cook them with a nice golden crust and keep the inside tender. Make sure not to over-cook your scallops and left untouched they should be fully cooked in about 4-5 minutes.
You can also garnish your finished scallops with fresh parsley, lemon wedges, chives, or salt and pepper.
Mistakes to Avoid When Cooking Scallops
Scallops are expensive and they should be treated with care. There are a couple of mistakes to avoid when cooking scallops:
Mistake #1: Cooking Scallops on a skillet
Cooking scallops on a skillet can lead to uneven cooking and burned pieces.
Mistake #2: Baking Scallops with lemon sauce
Baking scallops with lemon sauce can result in dry and tough pieces of meat.
Mistake #3 Unsoaked Scallops
Scallops should be soaked in water for at least ten minutes before cooking them. If they haven’t been soaked, the flesh will remain tough and rubbery.
Mistake #4 Unwashed Scallops
Scallops can also smell fishy if they have not been cleaned well enough before cooking them, so make sure to clean scallops well so that the flavor stays fresh
Health facts about scallops
The scallop is high in protein and it’s very low in fat and cholesterol. Also, the nutrient selenium helps fight cancer. Scallops are also high in Vitamin B12 and iron which boosts your immune system — so eat up! And while it may not be a “cure-all”, try eating them as an appetizer at dinner tonight!
How to store scallops
In general, fresh or live scallops should be stored in a cold, dark place with air circulation. Keep the scallops dry and avoid stacking them since this will cause them to get soggy.
And Live scallops can stay fresh for up to 4 days in their shell if kept refrigerated at under 34ºF and out of direct sunlight. Just make sure to rinse them before storing them.
Once cooked, dried scallops should be stored in an air-tight container and kept in a cool, dry, and dark place. (If you’re not going to use them right away)
If you are storing scallops in a refrigerator then make sure they are left in an airtight container and place them on the top shelf.
But as mentioned earlier eat your scallops within 24 hours of purchasing them, or cook and eat them right away to ensure the best quality.
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When I was training in some of the great restaurants in France, I was amazed that all the scallops we purchased were in the shell, much like you would buy an oyster or mussel. They were beautiful specimens–tight and extremely sweet. It was all a romantic picture until I had to open and clean several cases of them as fast as I possibly could (the only working speed in these kitchens). Don’t be misled–it’s a tough job that ultimately yields a proportionally small amount of scallops.
But what a prized delicacy it is. What we actually eat is only a small part of the scallop’s innards. We eat only the abductor muscle which keeps the shell closed and propels the scallop through the water (done by opening and closing the shell). The French and other Europeans also consume the crescent shaped pink/orange roe which is attached to the side of the scallop meat.
Most all scallops are shucked at sea. Rarely are they shipped in their shells mainly because of the expense involved and perishability issues. The following photos show the entire shucking process:
Fresh scallops waiting to be shucked
Chef Christopher Koetke begins shucking the scallop by carefully inserting the tip of a knife into the side of the scallop.
Once the shell has been opened, Chef Koetke slides the knife gently underneath the fleshy part
of the scallop to release the meat from the shell.
After the meat has been freed from the shell it is gently removed from the shell.
Now the dark flesh that surrounds the white meat of the scallop is removed and discarded.
The remaining meat of the scallop after it has been properly shucked.
One final step remains, and that is
to remove the small mussel from the meat of the scallop. This small mussel is very tough and is important to remove as you would never serve this part to anyone.
This final photograph shows a scallop with the roe attached. An added delicacy for many chefs.
Scallops can be steamed, grilled or baked, but searing them in a hot pan is the best and fastest way to prepare them – it creates a caramelized crust on both flat sides and adds incredible flavor.
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1. Some scallops may come with a small band of muscle still attached. If you find one, simply peel it off, as this part becomes rubbery when cooked. Pat scallops dry with paper towels.
2. Sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides. Heat a stainless steel sautee pan on high for 1 minutes (a nonstick pan will work, but stainless is preferred to searing and caramelizing). Add oil and swirl to coat bottom; heat for 30 seconds.
3. Place scallops around the outside of pan and cook 1 side for 1 to 2 minutes, or until visibly browned around bottom edge.
4. Use a thin metal spatula to scrape under each scallop and release from pan. Turn scallops over and cook other side for 1 to 2 minutes.
5. Scallops are done when they feel slightly firm but still tender when pressed gently. Its easy to overcook scallops, so you generally shouldn’t exceed a cooking time of 5 to 6 minutes total.
6. Remove scallops to a plate and serve immediately or keep warm by covering with foil or another plate while finishing recipe, like our Seared Scallops over Pea Pesto Linguini.
Scallops should be super easy to cook at home, but as many who have tried can attest, they often turn rubbery on the inside for no apparent reason.
Except, as Serious Eats reports, there is a reason. And, even better: It’s not your fault!
If you are buying scallops from the supermarket, chances are good that they are “wet scallops,” meaning they’ve been treated with sodium tripolyphosphate (STP), a chemical that’s not harmful to your health, but is harmful to your searing capabilities. True to their name, wet scallops exude more moisture when they’re cooking, messing up the searing process and leaving you with an icky, rubbery dinner.
Depending on who you ask, STP is used for different reasons. Serious Eats says it causes the scallops to pull in extra moisture, “up to 30% of their original weight,” which then costs you, the consumer, extra money. But an industry spokesperson from the National Fisheries Institute said it’s meant to help the scallops retain their natural moisture and “to prevent moisture loss during thawing.” (emphasis ours)
Whatever the reason, you’ll likely want to avoid wet scallops and look for “dry scallops” instead. (Even the National Fisheries Institute spokesperson said wetness can impact searing in some cases.) Serious Eats offers several ways to tell the difference:
First off, check the label. Fish counters selling dry scallops will most likely be proud of that fact and label them as such. Second, look at the container the scallops are held in. If there’s milky white liquid pooled in it, odds are those scallops are treated. Finally, take a look at the scallops themselves. Wet scallops have a ghostly, opaque, pale white or orange-white appearance. Dry scallops will be fleshier and more translucent.
At this point, says Serious Eats, you’re almost there. Just dry the scallops out a bit more by salting them on a paper towel-lined plate for 15 minutes, sear on high heat and enjoy. (Detailed instructions here.)
Can’t find dry scallops? America’s Test Kitchen has instructions on what to do: Soak your wet scallops in a quart of cold water, 1/4 cup of lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons of salt for 30 minutes.
Now somebody go tell Gordon Ramsay to lay off his poor chefs.
How to Clean Scallops
Knowing how to clean scallops can make a big difference. When the scallop is whole and in its shell, you just need a high-quality knife to open the shell. As a saltwater clam, it’s very much like any bivalve shellfish. These are a great delicacy and go very well alone, or in something like a homemade chowder.
How to Clean Scallops
Take a thin, flexible knife with a seven-inch blade. To avoid injury hold the scallop with a cloth as you will be entering the shell sharp end first and the sharp end can slip through the other end of the shell. A flexible knife is necessary because once you insert the knife into the gap, the shellfish will clamp down on the blade. This closing action comes from a strong white muscle near the ‘hinge’ of the shell. So when you insert the knife you want to glide it through so that it cuts this top muscle. This is the part we all know as the scallop.
Remove the Top Shell
Once you’ve got through the muscle, the top shell should come off easily. The shell should now have two pieces of meat. The flat piece is known as the mantel or bib. And on the other side, you should have the ‘scallop’ we all know. Attached to the scallop will be ‘the roe’, which is that orange piece of meat, and a dark black organ known as the ‘belly’ or ‘liver’. Surrounding this should be a ring of dark orange meat known as ‘the mantle’.
Remove the ‘liver’
The belly or liver contains grit and other things inside so it’s good to cut this portion off and discard it. The rest of the parts each have a different texture.
With your fingers, you can lift up the orange part of the scallop to reveal the gills which look almost like feathers. Clip these off as they can have a not so delicious flavour. This part comes out very easily, leaving you with the scallop (the adductor muscle), the roe and the mantle. You can leave these pieces on the shell as it will help the scallop keep its shape and meaty texture.
The Final Cut and Rinse
You can then remove the mantle from the other side of the shell. the dark orange gills can be carved off and placed on the other shell with the scallop. If at any point you notice grit in the shell you can give it a rinse under tap water. This means your scallops are now prepared and ready to be cooked! Of course, if you’d rather not do all this yourself you can have fresh catch delivered straight to your door. We can take care of all the difficult parts so all you need to do is cook and eat it.
Have any questions? You can always reach us on 0669472177
ALL LIVE PRODUCTS MUST BE HANDLED WITH CARE
Storing your live scallops
Remove the live scallops from the package and place it a bowl in your refrigerator until you are ready to prepare them. Live Scallops should be shucked the same day you receive them.
All shellfish needs to be kept properly hydrated. When shellfish are left to the open air, moisture starts to evaporate from the meats and other tissues, always try to cover shellfish with a moist paper towel.
Do Not: Put ice on the live scallops, freshwater is not good for them.
Do Not: Put live scallops (or any live seafood) in a bag and seal it. Sealing the bag will cut off important oxygen flow that your live items benefit from.
Do Not: Store them in a warm environment. The ideal storage temperature for live seafood is 38 degrees Fahrenheit
Unlike oysters, hardshell clams, and mussels, live scallops naturally have their shells slightly open when they are alive. However, scallops may get sleepy from the travel time and cold temperatures. To see if your scallop is alive, run a small thin tool around the edge of the scallop. The scallop should attempt to close its shell once it senses something entering it, meaning it is alive and safe for consumption.
Shucking Live Scallops
If you are looking for Sashimi Grade Scallops, buying Live North Atlantic Scallops is the only way to go. Although shucking and cleaning the scallops might take a few extra steps, tasting the tender and sweetness in the scallop out of the shell will melt in your mouth.
To shuck your live scallops, the recommended tool to use is a scallop knife. Click this link here to purchase.
Rinse the scallop to clean it from any particles on the outside of the shell.
Place the scallop flat in your hand. Take your shucking tool and run it along the top of the shell to sever the meat from the shell. The top shell should open with ease.
Run the shucking tool along the bottom of the shell to sever the meat from the shell completely. Peel off the roe and the belly of the scallop and separate the meat. Discard the belly and roe.
Rinse off the meat with water to remove any remaining sediment.
You can eat the scallop as is or cook them and enjoy!
We share our secrets to preparing restaurant-quality shellfish.
Fast, delicious, and rarely seen in a home kitchen, scallops are like the unicorn of easy dinner entrées. If you love eating these marvelous mollusks at restaurants and are eager to go pro at home, read on before you dive in—the four essential tips outlined here will make all the difference when you cook scallops in your own kitchen. While the information is mostly for the classic pan-seared preparation, scallops are a versatile protein that can be skewered and grilled, broiled, or baked, or even cured in a dish like ceviche. Apart from the ceviche, keeping the following guidelines in mind for whichever way you cook them is a very good idea.
Dry, Dry, and Then Dry Them Some More
To prepare scallops that end up perfectly cooked with a crisp, deep-golden-brown crust, you need to start at the store. Look for scallops labeled “dry” or “dry-packed;” this means they haven’t been “wet-packed,” as in treated with a chemical preservative (and in turn packs in a ton of extra unnecessary moisture).
Ready to cook? Before you turn on the burner, get out a platter or a baking sheet and line it with a double layer of paper towels (or a clean kitchen towel). Arrange the scallops on the tray, cover with another layer of towels, and gently but thoroughly press around each scallop to absorb as much moisture as possible. Wait to season them until you’re ready to cook; salt draws moisture out so the scallops will get wet again if they sit for too long.
Mind the Fat
For successful scallop searing, your burner needs to be between medium-high and high heat, so use an oil with a high smoke-point. Clarified butter, grapeseed oil, or just plain old vegetable oil are all great options. Avoid using fats like whole butter or extra-virgin olive oil—they’ll burn and turn rancid before the scallops have a chance to finish cooking. There’s a time and a place for incorporating those lovely, more delicate fats, though, such as in a pan sauce or finishing glaze.
Give Them Space
For anything you want to brown in a skillet, overcrowding the pan is like the kiss of death—and this especially rings true for scallops. Choose a heavy-bottomed, stainless steel or cast-iron skillet that is big enough to give each scallop about a half-inch to an inch of space all around. If you don’t have a pan large enough, simply work in batches and stash the cooked scallops in the oven on warm while you finish up.
Once you’ve added the scallops to your ripping hot pan, you may be tempted to move them around every few seconds. Resist! The scallops will need uninterrupted time with the hot oil in order to form that beautiful golden-brown crust. Once the scallops have been cooking for about a minute and a half, try flipping one over gently with tongs. If it releases easily, then they’re ready to be turned over. If it sticks, give them another 15 seconds before checking again.
One More Saucy Suggestion
Once your scallops are cooked and resting on a plate, you’ll be left with a bunch of flavorful little brown bits stuck at the bottom of the skillet. These bits, also known as “fond,” make a wonderful foundation for a quick pan sauce.
Here’s how: Add a minced shallot to the pan with the fond and sauté it over medium heat until tender. Add a dash of white wine or dry vermouth and scrape up the bits using a wooden spoon. Add a glug of chicken broth, a squirt of lemon, and a pat of cold butter. Whisk it all together until it looks emulsified, taste and adjust seasoning as needed, then pour it over your scallops before serving.