Scallops - a fine shellfish!
The main part we eat is the muscle that opens and closes the
pretty shell, the one that looks like the petrol station sign.
The other part
is the roe (or coral), there is a debate as to whether the roe should be served
or not, more about this.
The most common scallop is the American variety, these are
caught off the USA in areas like New Bedford. They are completely different
from European scallops in flavour and the fact that they are strictly caught
without roe. I remember one of those shouty TV chefs berating at one of his
chefs because he cooked a scallop with roe on. He said he had never seen anything so
disgusting, but that’s probably only because he had ever cooked American
scallops. If you know our British scallops, the truth is that American
scallops, even though they are flown in fresh, are inferior - in comparison
their flavour is watery and poor. These are the scallops often found in
restaurants because they are cheaper, as price is what drives restaurants.
So for the best scallops look to home – and like all
seafood, let us chose some great scallops for you (that's if you can't come into the fishmongers and chose them yourself!) and thne cook them yourself. Cooking advice - a very hot pan, like a griddle or frying pan, a thin coating of oil on the pan, then just two minutes each side. You'll see the scallop gradually going more opaque from the pan up, flip them over, but DON'T overcook! Serve as they are, with a wedge of lemon, and a simple salad. It's that easy.
There are three types of British scallops that you’ll find,
depending on where you shop
Dry (or washed)
Dry-dry are the
best, it means they are just out of the shell, and don’t come into contact with
any extra water. Scallops should not be washed as they absorb water, by as much
as 25%, and this affects flavour and taste. THESE ARE THE SCALLOPS YOU WILL GET
IF YOU ORDER FROM US! You can also buy empty shells from us, they are great for serving scallops in the traditional dish Coquilles St Jacques, or any starter that involves shellfish.
Dry (or washed)
are cheaper because they have absorbed water, but they are soft when you eat
Soaked are common
in Cornwall, they are fairly tasteless as they have as much as 25% water, but
they appear cheaper because you are paying for the water. Supermarkets often used
soaked scallops because they are in a price war situation, but as with all
fish, cheapness with fish is not something to aspire to.
Shetland scallops are usually the best because they are
usually dry-dry, YES THOSE ARE THE ONES YOU WILL GET IF YOU ORDER FROMUS!
To recognise a good scallop, look for them to be plump and
bright – meaning that the colour is clear and they just look attractive. Some
scallops are slightly darker than others, this is not bad, just look for them
to be bright and the scallop looks quite solid. If they are soaked, the colour
deteriorates and they are softer.
There is a new craze for "dived” scallops, it seems that
every restaurant is selling these. But there are not enough divers to supply
all these scallops, so be wary when you see this word. All the divers are
licenced, and there are two women divers.
Queen scallops are a different species, they are small and are
usually sold out of the shell and frozen. They don’t have added water so are
not a bad buy, even if they are frozen. Maybe keep them for fish stews,
scallops with garlic etc.
Scallops are here.