If you’ve never tried out scallops before, you might be wondering what they taste like. Most people assume that anything sourced from fresh or salty water tastes like fish. However, this is not always true, especially concerning scallops.
Whether cooked or raw, scallops have a distinct sweet taste that is beautifully etched in mild saltiness from their seawater habitat.
Seared scallops could taste like chicken. In comparison, scallops taste more like oysters or lobsters as opposed to fish. In fact, a fishy taste could be a sign that the scallops are not fresh.
What is a Scallop?
A scallop is a sea creature in the mollusk family related to oysters, clams, and crabs. Scallops are shelled animals (not fish) with two hinged shells that open and close clapping when they move through the water.
Not all scallops swim, as some scallops are docile and thus attach themselves to sea rocks for the rest of their lives.
Scallops have about 100 tiny blue eyes around their forms, acting as detectors and sensors in the water. They often clap their way to safety whenever they detect any sudden movement or light. Scallops are filter feeders.
Scallop shells are often ornamental and are sold separately from the edible parts to shell and art collectors.
What Do Scallops Look Like?
In water, scallops are housed in two conjoined fan-like shells. The shells protect the scallops’ rather delicate interiors.
Scallops range in size and color depending on age, sex, and the waters in which they live. Sea scallops are the largest, while bay scallops are much smaller but common.
Inside the shell, there is an adductor muscle and other filtering parts of the scallop.
Scallops in the market or restaurant look like white or pinkish Jell-O.
Fresh scallops should be white or pink and translucent. Some could have a light orange to brown tint. But they should never be grey, green, or opaque.
Scallops should also be soft and firm but never slimy. Slimy scallops are not fresh and should not be eaten.
When buying scallops, you will find both wet and dry options. Always buy dried scallops as they show you the real size of the scallop, and they also keep longer.
Wet scallops appear bigger and often contain preservatives that could leave an aftertaste when eating.
What Part of the Scallop Do You Eat?
The adductor muscle is the only edible part of the scallop. This is what restaurants serve when you ask for a plate of scallops.
Scallops have three main parts in their structures; the shells, the mechanical adductor muscle, and the filtering members.
The shells are automatically not edible and are instead used for decorations and art.
We do not eat the filtering parts of the scallop since they may be harmful. Some of the toxins filtered from the seawater might still be in said parts and, if ingested, can cause several complications, such as food poisoning. These filtering parts could also be carcinogenic.
What do Scallops Taste Like?
Scallops can be generally described as sweet. However, there is so much more to their taste. When eating scallops, you will get sweet, salty, savory, and nutty hints altogether.
This combination of flavors makes scallops a favorite among seafood lovers. Furthermore, scallops are soft, juicy, and a bit chewy.
Fresh scallops should neither have an odor nor a fishy taste. Scallops generally have a neutral smell or, at most, a salty one.
Different preparation methods also slightly alter the taste and texture of scallops. The more heat administered, the firmer and less succulent they become.
Adding spices and other ingredients could also mesh with the taste of the scallops to bring out new hints and flavors.
What do Raw Scallops Taste Like?
Raw scallops are sweet, juicy, and have a briny aftertaste. They have a similar taste to oysters but are firmer. People that love scallops often eat them raw as the taste and flavor are richer this way.
You should, however, never eat scallops raw if you do not know how long they have been out of the water. Scallops, like any seafood, can be a source of mercury poisoning. Scallops can also be a breeding ground for harmful bacteria when not fresh.
What do Fried Scallops Taste Like?
Frying scallops will give them a firmer, crispier texture, but the sweet and salty tastes will remain. If you are eating scallops for the first time and are maybe worried about their texture, you can start by having them fried and later raw.
Bay vs. Sea Scallop Taste
Bay scallops are different from sea scallops in several ways. For starters, bay scallops are rare but more popular than sea scallops as they are easier to harvest in bulk.
Bay scallops are rare only because they are seasonal as opposed to sea scallops which are available all year round.
Most Bay Scallops are the ones that attach themselves to sea rocks, while Sea Scallops are free-range. This could explain why Sea Scallops are also bigger.
When it comes to taste, Bay Scallops are more popular because they are sweeter than Sea Scallops, which have a stronger saltiness to them. Bay Scallops are also softer and tenderer compared to Sea Scallops, which have a tougher texture.
In terms of preparations, Bay Scallops are easier to cook since they are softer. Their small size makes them perfect for casseroles and other baking recipes.
Sea scallops, on the other hand, are usually prepared separately and then served with other main dishes such as pasta or rice.
What do Scallops Taste Similar To?
People have different palates hence their taste comparisons could differ. However, most agree that scallops taste like oysters, lobsters, and crabs. When seared, they could lightly taste like chicken but with a sea flavor.
Do Scallops Taste Like Shrimp?
Shrimp does have a sweetness to them that can be likened to that of scallops. However, the two are different in their texture, as scallops are softer.
Scallops are also juicier and can easily be eaten on their own. You can also eat shrimp by itself, but it goes best paired with another dish, such as rice.
Read Also: Is it Safe to Eat Raw Scallops? (Read This First)
Do Scallops Taste Like Lobster?
Some people say scallops taste like lobster but sweeter. Some, however, argue that scallops taste more like oysters than anything else.
Fried scallops could taste like lobster, although the latter has a tougher texture. Lobsters could also faintly taste like fish, something that scallops do not have. They are, however, both soft and succulent.