[Sca-cooks] scallops

Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius adamantius1 at verizon.net
Sun Apr 19 15:44:43 PDT 2009

On Apr 19, 2009, at 4:19 PM, Stefan li Rous wrote:

> 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?

Well, if you look closely enough at those unmarked white disks, you'll  
actually see different shades from ivory to yellow to pinkish, and  
usually at least two distinct muscle structures (the main adductor  
muscle and the tougher "strap").

But in most countries outside the US (even though I don't live in any  
of them), I gather scallops come whole, either alive in the shell, or  
on ice on the half shell, but otherwise more or less anatomically  
correct. Like oysters, scallops have a flat shell on one side and a  
concave/convex half on the other side, so it behooves the fish market  
to conserve juices by storing it flat-side up, so that's the shell  
they normally remove, if they're doing it that way.

Where I live, they can be gotten in completely shelled form, on the  
hoof, as it were, and in opened shells. I don't often see them  
specifically advertised as dry-pack, but if they're in the shell, they  
probably are, and if alive, definitely.

> 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.

Ideally, they'll be on a bed of ice, which keeps them colder than your  
fridge, or the market's, but not cold enough for ice crystals to form.  
If they're frozen, they are probably what is called IQF, which stands  
for Individually Quick Frozen, which involves dipping the beastie in  
an ultra-cold but agitated, not-quite-frozen-yet water bath, which  
freezes onto the surface, forming a protective glaze of ice before the  
actual piece of seafood freezes. It's done a lot with shrimp, too.

> 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.

Apart from the dread water weight loss, that is, and that can be  
significant, which is just one of the several reasons for throwing a  
fit about the wet-packed scallops. And, of course, another is that the  
liquid lost is a lot of the sugars that contribute to the flavor of  
the scallop, and also its capacity for browning.

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

Good, fresh scallops can appear almost shockingly sweet -- at least as  
much so as real, fresh lobster, say -- to one not used to them. I  
doubt it would be a problem for you or anyone else with sugar issues,  
but they do contain something like .7 grams of carbohydrates per  
ounce. As I said, I remember getting exceptionally fresh bay scallops  
at the Grand Central Oyster Bar, which is, as the name implies, an  
oyster bar and restaurant in New York's Grand Central Station (one  
whose cooking is just okay, nothing great, but whose seafood buyer is  
enough of a genius to regularly turn down job offers in the six  
figures to work for large Tokyo sushi chains) and thinking they were  
coated with honey. I wasn't kidding.


"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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