[Sca-cooks] scallops

Stefan li Rous StefanliRous at austin.rr.com
Sun Apr 19 13:19:07 PDT 2009

Adamantius replied to me with:

<<< 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>

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. >>>

Ohhhh!  Thank you. Once again, I asked what I thought was likely to  
be a simple, even a "why'd he ask that" kinda question, and learned a  
whole lot more.

Among other things this is a reminder that people outside the US may  
see things differently, because what they see is different. So for  
those outside the US, what do the scallops sold where you are look  
like? Are they not whitish, round disks of seafood flesh without  
really any markings or external texture?

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. >>>

I guess I'm going to have to look closer at the scallops, even if I  
don't buy them, and see if I can find some of these "dry-packed"  
ones. I'm not sure how I would know which were packed how, since they  
are both likely to be in the plastic wrapped foam trays with the  
plastic warp. I assume both need to be frozen or refrigerated, so  
they will be in the refrigerator/freezer cases.

<<< Under the right circumstances, the best bay scallops, while  
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. >>>

Yes, "cheaper" doesn't equate to "cheap". I'll have to put them, and  
Huette's recipe on my "when I get a job" list. At Sam's they've been  
about $8/pound to $11/pound, bay to ocean, I think. That is with  
almost no waste, unlike say crawfish.

The few I've had I did consider rather bland, like most shrimp.

THLord Stefan li Rous    Barony of Bryn Gwlad    Kingdom of Ansteorra
    Mark S. Harris           Austin, Texas           
StefanliRous at austin.rr.com
**** See Stefan's Florilegium files at:  http://www.florilegium.org ****

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