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can you eat a scallop raw?

Is it Safe to Eat Raw Scallops? (Read This First)

For seafood lovers, anyone will firmly tell you that raw scallops are way tastier than cooked ones. But with the increased mercury and general food poisoning from fish and other seafood, one might be concerned about eating raw scallops. 

When handled correctly and consumed fresh, raw scallops are safe to eat. Raw scallops are rich in flavor and are a great source of several nutrients, including proteins and Vitamin K.

What is a Scallop?

Raw scallops

Scallops belong to the mollusk family of sea creatures, including oysters, clams, and mussels. They have two conjoined/bivalve shells which allow them to move in the seawater. 

Scallops can be found in the warmer bay waters or in cooler deep seawaters. Depending on where they are harvested, scallops can differ in size and flavor.

Scallops from deep seawaters are harder to find and harvest and are thus more expensive than bay water scallops. Sea scallops are also bigger.

When in the culinary context, scallops refer to the meaty muscle part of these creatures that are served either raw or cooked. They can be a main dish or served as a side with source and other heavier foods such as pasta.

Can You Eat Scallops Raw?

Scallops require great care from the point of harvest to when they are served on the table. You can eat and enjoy scallops raw.

However, it is important to note that raw scallops are best eaten when fresh. The shorter the period between harvest and consumption, the better the scallops will be. 

When kept for too long, scallops become breeding grounds for bacteria, and consuming them raw can cause food poisoning. If you are unsure about the keeping period of scallops, make sure you cook them before eating.

Can You Eat Frozen Scallops Raw?

If you buy your scallops directly from a fishmonger and prepare and freeze them yourself, you can consume them raw.

With certainty about the duration that the scallops have stayed since harvesting, you shouldn’t worry about the safety of eating them raw. 

Freshly frozen or individually quick frozen scallops (without icing and thawing) can be eaten raw for up to six months after freezing. Just make sure you wash them thoroughly before eating. 

If you bought your frozen scallops, avoid refreezing them, and cook them before eating. Some scallops take up to a month after harvesting before coming to land for processing and selling.

Since you can never tell whether they were handled aseptically, always opt to cook store-bought frozen scallops.

What do Raw Scallops Taste Like?

Fresh raw scallops have a sweet taste that might have a mild brine aftertaste. To know whether scallops are fresh, check their color and texture.

Fresh scallops will have a pink to light beige color. Female scallops that have just spawned might be slightly orange. 

Fresh scallops smell the sea, meaning they are more salty than fishy. They also have a tender yet firm texture to them.

If you find scallops that are grey, green, or black, with a strong fishy smell and soft mushy texture, they are most likely not fresh and should thus not be eaten raw.

How to Tell if Scallops are Done or Raw

Raw scallops
Raw Scallops

You might have ordered raw scallops at a restaurant, and the waiter gets your order mixed up. How do you tell done and raw scallops apart? Raw scallops are translucent, firm, and tough to cut. 

Cooked scallops
Cooked scallops

Cooked or done scallops will have a brown to golden color that gives the scallops an opaque look. The heat from the preparation will also make the scallops easy to cut with a knife.

Will Eating Raw Scallops Make You Sick?

With proper handling and cleaning, raw scallops will not make you sick. However, people do get sick from eating raw scallops that have been contaminated during harvesting and processing.

Poorly handled and stored scallops can easily become breeding grounds for bacteria and other disease-causing contaminants that, if ingested, will cause food poisoning.

Therefore, we advise you to properly clean and cook scallops of uncertain origins. 

Can You Eat Raw Scallops When Pregnant?

You can eat raw scallops when pregnant. However, remember that whatever you consume during pregnancy will affect your unborn child. Raw scallops and seafood, in general, are common sources of mercury poisoning. 

Only eat raw scallops if you are absolutely sure of their source, handling, and time they have stayed out of the sea.

Do not overdo their consumption, and if you notice any issues in your body or health after eating raw scallops, stop immediately and get medical advice.

How to Prepare Raw Scallops

Generally, scallops preparation is simple, whether you want to eat them raw or cooked. However, for more artistic presentations and recipes, you might need to dig deeper and go the extra mile to get recipes that will impress your guests.

So, here are a few basic steps for preparing raw scallops.

When Eating them Raw

The preparation process is very simple if you have fresh scallops and prefer enjoying them raw. You can have your scallops ready to eat in just four steps:

  1. Remove any extra muscle from the scallop shell, if any.
  2. Rinse for about one minute under cool running water. Make sure the water gets to every part of the scallop. Be gentle, however, to avoid making the scallop come apart.
  3. Once clean, put the scallops on dry paper towels to remove any excess water. You can also pat them dry yourself. 
  4. Your scallops are clean and ready to eat. Salt and season to your liking.

When Cooking them

Cooking scallops is another viable option if you want to enjoy your scallops differently. Depending on your preferences, you can fry, grill, or bake your scallops.

Whichever your choice, scallops are easy to cook once washed clean, and they get ready in a very short time. You can try out this simple recipe below for a delicious plate of scallops at home.

Read Also: Should You Eat Shrimp Every Day? (A Food Science Perspective)

Can You Buy Scallops in a Shell?

Scallops in shells
Scallops still in their shells

Normally, for easier storage and transportation, scallops come to the market with their shells already removed. Shelled scallops have a shorter shelf life and require almost instant consumption for the best pallet experience. 

You can still buy your scallops in a shell, though. The best way is to buy them directly from a day boat or at a local fresh fish market.

You might find some people selling freshly harvested scallops still in their shells, but you will have to clean and prepare them yourself. For those not near a bay, you can try purchasing them directly or online from seafood Vendors.

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