What Do Scallops Taste Like? Delicious Ways of Cooking Scallops At Home!
Scallops are delicious and low-calorie shellfish. If you’ve loved eating lobster or crabs or both, you’ll fall in love with this tender and buttery delicacy immediately.
Frequent eaters of scallop think of its taste as mildly sweet with a lobster-like texture that is both tender and succulent at the same time. Having said that, scallops are an expensive treat. They are extracted the way clams, oysters are.
The round scallops meat which is the part of the scallops we eat is removed from between the hinged shells. Hence, they are categorized as shellfish.
Even if you’re not such a shellfish fan, you’ll enjoy the flavor and texture of shellfish because it’s light but very flavorful. In fact, scallops are deservedly called as “the candy of the sea.”
What this means exactly, let’s find out now…
What Do Scallops Taste Like?
Scallops can have different textures based on how you cook them. Because the outer texture of scallops is soft, jelly-like, it can be fried, seared, grilled with salt, pepper, butter, garlic, and lots more interesting ingredients.
This means you can also cook scallops on the stovetop, in a toaster oven, and grill.
So first to understand what scallops taste like, let us look at how to cook them properly…
1. Seared Scallops
Using a skillet to cook scallops is the easiest and most effective way of bringing out the flavor of the seafood. While scallops do seem like an easy recipe, you can mess it up fairly quickly.
Use a non-stick skillet to avoid burning the scallops. A cast-iron skillet does wonders to effectively caramelize the scallops without the outer skin sticking to the surface of the pan.
Add 1-2 tbsp of olive oil to the pain. A few small pieces of butter can also add more flavor to the scallops. It’ll help caramelize the sweetness of scallops without overcooking or burning the texture.
Allow the scallops to completely cook and caramelize on one side without moving them around. NEVER use sharp tongs or a flat spoon to poke the scallops once they start cooking. Only touch them to flip them over to the other side once they have turned golden brown. It shouldn’t take longer than 5 minutes to cook on both sides.
Scallops seared on a skillet taste sweet and tender. They cook in bite-sized pieces so you can also think of them as seafood popcorn! Sweet, juicy, tender, and definitely buttery.
2. Dried Scallops
Dried scallops are cooked with salt, pepper, and herbs. Although adding herbs is optional, it can definitely intensify the flavor.
Start by drying out the extra moisture on the scallops on a baking sheet. Place a dry, clean kitchen towel on top of the scallops to leave it for 10 minutes. Make sure the kitchen towel is not too heavy or else it might flatten the meat.
Dried scallops taste like tender crab meat. But without the moisture as the kitchen towels absorbs most of it. You can the scallops season the scallops on a pan with salt and pepper.
Drying the scallops makes the outer layer crispier and they are less likely to fall apart while cooking them on the pan. It’s simple to cook and very delicious and aromatic.
3. Crispy Baked Scallops
Imagine adding breadcrumbs to scallops to make the outer layer crisper than ever! You can also bake the scallops, that’s what I do, to avoid overcooking the scallops on the pan.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Layer the pan with a baking sheet and place the scallops on the baking dish. In a mixing bowl, combine Panko breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, paprika, parmesan cheese, and butter olive oil.
Coat the lined-up scallops with this mixture and bake until the outer layer of the scallops starts to turn golden brown. In my experience, this shouldn’t take longer than 15 minutes.
Flip the scallops carefully halfway through to cook both sides. Make sure you coat the top layer of the scallops with the Panko olive oil mixture. If you don’t have any left, you can just drizzle butter olive oil with salt and pepper.
Crispy baked scallops taste more crispy than caramelized and buttery-like seared scallops. They are dry but not in a bad way. You can add crispy baked scallops to salads and soups! If you’re feeling a little experimental, you can even make an excellent sauce to go with the crispiness of the scallops.
Can You Store Scallops? And Do They Turn Bad?
Since scallops have a mild and “fishy” taste, it’s important to remember how to preserve that freshness during storage. This means storing scallops below the average temperature of 40-degrees Fahrenheit in a refrigerator or freezer. Make sure you store them in a tight container with a seal. Any moisture or air getting in or out will spoil the scallops fairly quickly.
Having said that, scallops stay fresh in the fridge for about 1-2 days. And in the freezer were you to freeze them, they’ll last for 3 – 8 months. Placing them in a bowl of water for thawing for a few hours is the best way to cook frozen scallops without spoiling them.
Eating bad scallops is more common than you think. Bad or spoiled scallops will smell foul, look brownish or yellowish, and have an off odor.
Totally ruined scallops may also have a slimy surface that looks rotten, bloated, and ammonia-like. Never buy scallops that smell foul when you’re inspecting them in the store. Scallops with perfectly round edges are fresh, not the frayed ones that look more rectangular than round in shape.
Even though there are many types of scallops to choose from, the most popularly bought and served scallops are sea scallops. They are fresh, delicious, and easiest to make. Bay scallops are thicker and more seasonal than sea scallops. More on that, they are also very difficult to cook. So if you’re a beginner, I’d recommend you stick to sea scallops.
I hope this article gives you all the information you need to store, cook, and taste scallops as they are intended. If you’re lucky enough to be living in a coastal city, you can purchase scallops freshly caught and harvested with little to no chemicals for preservation!