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What are Scallops?

Close Up of Sea Scallops

Scallops are popular worldwide, but many seafood lovers wouldn't be able to tell you much about these remarkable sea creatures. Here's your one-stop-shop for all things scallop, including information on scallops as a species, types of scallops, scallop production and nutrition info. We've also collected our favorite scallop cooking methods. Check out our variety of fresh scallops with delivery right to your door from

What are scallops?

First thing's first: what is a scallop? Scallops are a type of mollusk, the phylum (species category) that also includes clamsmusselsoysterssquidoctopus, snails, and sea slugs. Scallops have two hinged shells called bivalves which the scallop opens and closes using a large adductor muscle (called the scallop’s “scallop”) -- the white, meaty part of the scallop most easily recognizable on your dinner plate. Scallops also produce soft, red or white roe, a popular delicacy. The scallop uses its adductor muscle to swim by clapping its shells together quickly, propelling itself through the water! Scallops also have up to 100 eyes along their mantle which allow them to sense light, dark, and motion. Scallops eat by filtering algae, krill, plankton, and larvae from the water.

Types of Scallops

From a seafood chef’s perspective, there are two types of scallops: wet scallops and dry scallops. Wet scallops are aptly named; when they are harvested at sea, they are treated with a preservative solution of water and sodium tripolyphosphate (STPP). Often, wet scallops are then frozen. Conversely, dry scallops are not preserved in this manner, and will always sear to perfection.

Many chefs prefer dry scallops over wet scallops, because while the STPP retains wet scallops' moisture, it also impacts the scallops' taste and texture. The process of freezing scallops can also impact the texture if care is not taken in the thawing process. Conversely, dry (untreated) scallops retain a sweeter, fresher flavor.

That said, some chefs use a "hack" when cooking wet scallops to enhance their flavor. By soaking wet scallops in a quart of cold water with ¼ cup lemon juice and two tablespoons of salt for 30 minutes, you may be unable to tell the difference between wet and dry scallops.

How are Scallops Produced?

In the wild, scallops live in saltwater environments. In the US, there are two types of scallops sold as food: the Atlantic sea scallop, which is larger -- up to nine inches long -- and harvested from the Canadian border to the mid-Atlantic, and the Bay scallop, which is smaller and harvested along the coast from Florida to New Jersey. Scallop farming is an emerging practice in the U.S., gaining traction due to the environmental benefits of aquaculture over more disruptive wild-harvest methods.

Scallop Nutrition Info

Three ounces of raw scallops contain:

  • Calories: 90
  • Fat: 0.5 g
    • Saturated fat: 0 g
      • Trans fat: 0 g
        • Cholesterol: 35 mg (12% Recommended Daily Value [RDV])
        • Sodium: 570 mg (24% RDV)
        • Carbs: 5 g (2%RDV)
        • Protein: 17 g
        • Vitamins A, C, D, and Calcium: 0% RDV
        • Iron: 2% RDV
        • Selenium: 25% RDV

        How to Cook Scallops

        In Western cuisine, there are two popular ways to cook scallops: sauteing and frying.

        Sautéed Scallops

        • Total cook time: 15 minutes
        • Yield: 2 servings
        • Nutrition per serving:
          • Calories: 409
          • Fat: 25 g
          • Carbs: 7 g
          • Protein: 39 g
          • Cholesterol: 136 mg
          • Sodium: 530 mg
        • Equipment:
          • Medium saucepan
        • Ingredients:
          • 1 lb fresh scallops
          • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
          • ¼ cup butter
          • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
        • Steps:
          1. In the saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat
          2. When the butter is melted, add the garlic and whole sprigs of rosemary. Then add the scallops.
          3. Cook the scallops over medium-high heat until they are done, flipping them over halfway through (ie. about two minutes on each side). The scallops will be opaque when fully cooked. To make sure they're completely cooked through, poke the scallop with a fork. If the scallop is done, the fork should bounce back slightly. If it's still mushy, continue cooking.
          4. When the scallops are finished cooking, discard the rosemary and serve your scallops. Enjoy!

        Fried Scallops

        • Total cook time: 20 minutes
        • Yield: 3 servings
        • Nutrition per serving:
          • Calories: 769
          • Fat: 31 g
          • Carbs: 85 g
          • Protein: 37 g
          • Cholesterol: 83 mg
          • Sodium: 1915 g
        • Equipment:
          • Large saucepan
          • Two large bowls
          • Large plate, lined with paper towels
        • Ingredients:
          • 12 large fresh scallops
          • 2 cups flour
          • 2 cups buttermilk
          • Olive oil for frying
          • ½ Tbsp salt
          • ½ Tbsp pepper
        • Steps:
          1. In the saucepan, heat the oil over high heat until it is hot.
          2. While the oil is heating, pour the buttermilk into one of the bowls. Set aside.
          3. In the other bowl, combine the flour, salt, and pepper.
          4. Dip each scallop first in the buttermilk, then in the flour mixture. Place the flour-coated scallops in the oil.
          5. Cook until the scallops are lightly browned and crispy (about 4 minutes).
          6. When the scallops are finished cooking, remove them from the saucepan and place on the paper-towel-coated plate to drain.
          7. Serve and enjoy!
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