Scallop Scallops are living creatures with an exoskeleton, which means they do not have bones. What gives them this type of skeleton is a combination of calcium carbonate and chitin (a complex carbohydrate). Scallop's shells are able to withstand the constant pounding they receive on the ocean floor.
Though there are many different species of scallop, not all can swim. Some can only move up and down or side to side in the water, while others just close their shells and wait for the current to take them elsewhere. Scallops live on sand and gravel bottoms and require a lot of water movement to bring food to them.
Scallops are easy to find in most large seafood markets and can be purchased shucked or unshucked (in their shells). Before cooking them, wash the scallop meat under cold running water and scrub off any bits of shell with a stiff brush. If you're preparing the scallop in its shell, use a sturdy paring knife to cut away the muscle and remove it from the shell. Then scrape any green sac from around the scallop meat.
Scallops cook very quickly, usually just a couple of minutes per side, which means they're easiest to prepare at home on a barbecue or indoors under a broiler. They can also be pan-fried or sautéed, but care must be taken not to overcook them as they become tough very quickly.
Scallops are low in sodium and high in protein and vitamin B12. Since they're usually dipped in batter and fried, you might want to avoid eating too many of them, just as you would fry clams or other fried seafood. Scallops are often served with sauces of butter, lemon juice, or white wine. Though scallops are eaten in many different ways all over the world, the most popular way of eating them is lightly breaded and pan-fried to a golden brown.
There are two ways to process sea scallops, dry-packed and wet-packed. Dry-packed products are usually sold as fresh, while wet-packed products are frozen or processed further before being sold as fresh. Dry-processed products can be stored for up to a year under refrigeration, while wet-packed products are usually sold within three months.
Sea scallops are typically harvested by raking them from the seafloor or by dredging. They are graded according to size and quality, with "U30" being the highest grade—denoting 30 or fewer scallops per pound. The grades, from highest to lowest include jumbo, extra-large, large, medium, and small. U10 is reserved for scallops with 10 or fewer individuals per pound. Sea scallops are also graded by color. The lighter the color, the more uniform it is in size and shape.