[Sca-cooks] scallops

Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius adamantius1 at verizon.net
Sun Apr 19 04:50:23 PDT 2009

On Apr 19, 2009, at 3:16 AM, Stefan li Rous wrote:

> On Sat, Apr 18, 2009 at 8:44 PM, S CLEMENGER <sclemenger at msn.com>  
> wrote:
> Should those be "wet" scallops, or dry ones? Or does it matter?
> --Maire >>>
> What are "dry" scallops? Are these actually dried scallop pieces  
> which you have to rehydrate before using? Or are these actually  
> something else, like the fake crabmeat?

For US marketing, scallops are generally processed on board ship, and  
the only part that makes it to shore and your fish market, supermarket  
or local restaurant are the trimmed adductor muscle of a much larger  
and more complex shellfish. In most of the civilized world, as these  
things are measured, this is not the case.

Frequently, the scallop meat is treated with some chemical (exactly  
what escapes me) that causes them to absorb water, which allegedly  
keeps them fresh longer, improves their flavor and texture, and  
generally fights the good fight. Allegedly. In reality what it does is  
increase the weight of an item sold by the pound at the expense of  
flavor and texture. Such scallops are known as wet-packed or wet  
scallops. For some applications, such as sauteing and grilling, where  
the uncoated scallop is expected to brown, it's a lot more difficult  
to do this without overcooking it, because the scallop keeps leaking  
moisture all over the pan or grill, creating a blanket of steam and  
preventing the sweet meat from really touching the hot surface properly.

AFAIK, all frozen scallops are wet-packed. However, aficionados of  
fresh scallops prefer dry-packed scallops. They don't keep as well,  
and are sometimes a bit smaller, but of course it's nice to know when  
your fish is going bad, they taste better when fresh, and they respond  
better to those certain types of cooking.

> The only ones I remember seeing were frozen or fresh in plastic  
> wrapped trays. Usually I see larger ones, inch and a half in  
> diameter? which are sea scallops and smaller, cheaper ones about an  
> inch in diameter called "bay scallops".

Under the right circumstances, the best bay scallops, while generally  
smaller, are neither cheaper nor of any lesser quality (in fact the  
contrary) than sea scallops. Probably my first exposure to dry-packed  
scallops was on my ill-fated single day working at the Grand Central  
Oyster Bar, when the executive chef handed me a pan with a few sauteed  
bay scallops left in it after filling a plate, and said, "Here, taste  
that." I did, and asked why he had added so much honey to them, and if  
it was to facilitate browning. He said he had added salt and clarified  
butter; that's just what scallops taste like.


"Most men worry about their own bellies, and other people's souls,  
when we all ought to worry about our own souls, and other people's  
			-- Rabbi Israel Salanter

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