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Revealing the secrets of scallops.

Revealing the secrets of scallops.You’re one of three types of people when it comes to scallops. You’re a lover, you’re a hater, or you’re simply a first-timer. Regardless of your current status I’m here to inform you of the nitty-gritty - where they come from, what a fresh scallop looks and smells like, how many eyes they have (100), and most importantly, how they get onto the plate sitting in front of you.

Let’s start with the basics. What is a scallop? At first glance it’s simply two shells stuck together with something edible in the middle, but let’s get more technical shall we? I did promise the nitty-gritty.

Scallops are molluscs that have two convex shells hinged together. The shells are both beautiful and similarly shaped. Inside, the white muscle that opens and closes the two shells, the nut, is one of the two edible portions of a scallop. The reproductive gland, the roe, is also edible, although not as widely consumed.

Interestingly, many scallops have both female and male organs, and throughout their lives these scallops alter their gender. A few, however, have a definitive gender and begin to reproduce at the age of two. Through what is called spawning, these breeders can produce hundreds of millions of eggs per year.

There are several hundred different species of scallops, with a few that are regularly eaten and widely available. The top two are the Atlantic deep-sea scallop and the bay scallop. The deep-sea scallop is large, while the bay scallop is small, and both run in the same season. October marks the beginning of this season, which lasts until the end of March. Beginning in December and ending in May, you’ll find fresh calico scallops are in season. However, regardless of the month if it is scallops you want, it is scallops you will find, as both fresh and frozen scallops are available all year-round.

Scallops are found in all of the world’s oceans, but never in freshwater. Interestingly, some have the capability to swim short distances either for migration or escape from predators, while others stay cemented in place for the duration of their life. Those that are cemented tend to be the ones sitting there on your plate,Revealing the secrets of scallops. harvested using scallop dredges or bottoms trawls, or hand-caught by divers. The latter method is more eco-friendly, as it produces less negative impacts on the ocean floor. This method also produces a fresher scallop, as more often than not it goes directly from the sea to the market. Scallops are extremely perishable, and for that reason they are usually shelled, washed and frozen as soon as they are caught.

So how do you know you are getting a good scallop? Here are a few indicators to make the lovers love more, the haters hate less, and to help the first-timers make the right call.

First, use your eyes - fresh scallops should never have browning. Instead, they should have flesh that is white and firm. Frozen scallops should have no freezing inside their packaging, and should look shiny. Second, use your nose. Smell is widely unused, either out of awkwardness or inconvenience, both of which should be set aside. Fresh scallops should be odourless, or have a slightly sweet scent. If possible, always smell your scallops before purchasing.

Different types of fish are known for their health benefits, but other seafood can be just as beneficial, including, you guessed it - scallops. Scallops contain a variety of nutrients that can promote cardiovascular health, and can also offer protection against colon cancer. They are an excellent source of vitamin B12 and phosphorus, and are also a good source of protein, selenium, as well as zinc, magnesium, and potassium. So not only will your taste buds thank you, but so will your overall health.

So now you know the facts. My job is done - the nitty-gritty has been presented and now it’s up to you. Will you remain a lover? A hater? Will you cross the line and no longer remain a first timer? If so, just remember, a hundred eyes may or may not be staring at you.


Alison Stephens


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