Scallops, one of the most popular mollusks, are as delicious as they are beautiful. While it's the two fan-shaped shells that make mollusks so attractive, it's their large meaty adductor muscle that's given them their status as a gourmet food. Their soft tender texture and mild sweet flavour make scallops a favourite among seafood lovers. And their versatility means they are enjoyed in cuisines all over the world. Read on to learn more about scallops, their nutrition highlights, and easy ways to add them to your diet.
Scallops are high in protein, contain virtually no saturated fat and are a good source of important minerals including magnesium, phosphorus and potassium.
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Scallops are also a good source of vitamin B12 – a three-ounce serving (90 grams) provides half of a day's vitamin B12 requirement. The body needs vitamin B12 to make red blood cells and to maintain a healthy nervous system. Vitamin B12 is also used to make and repair DNA, the genetic material of cells.
Here's how a 3-ounce (90 gram) serving of steamed scallops (bay or sea) stack up in terms of nutrition:
Protein 21 grams
Fat 1.3 grams
Saturated fat 0.1 grams
Cholesterol 48 milligrams
Plus, you get 50 milligrams of magnesium, 304 milligrams of phosphorus, and 1.2 micrograms of vitamin B12.
There are hundreds of different varieties of scallops available worldwide, but the two main types available in North America are the sea scallop and the bay scallop.
Sea scallops are the largest of scallops; they're usually about one and a half inches in diameter. There are typically 20 to 40 scallops in one pound. Sea scallops are creamy white and may appear slightly orange, due to the algae they consume.
Bay scallops are much smaller, averaging about half an inch in diameter. You'll get 50 to 90 bay scallops per one pound. They're white with a slight pink coloration. Fresh bay scallops are often eaten raw in sushi bars.
Scallops can be purchased fresh or frozen; either way you'll find them already shucked.
If you prefer fresh scallops, use extra caution when buying them to make sure you're purchasing them as fresh as possible. Smell is an especially good indicator of freshness. Ask to smell the scallops before purchasing to ensure they are fresh. Fresh scallops should either be odourless or have a clean, fresh and almost sweet smell.
Scallops should have firm, white flesh with a slight shine to them and no evidence of browning.
As with all seafood, purchase scallops from a reputable fishmonger who has a fresh supply of fish with a high turnover of products.
Refrigerate them immediately after buying. We recommend asking for a bag of ice to help keep them cool until you have access to proper refrigeration. (Alternatively keep a small cooler in your car to help prevent them from spoiling).
To store fresh scallops, wrap them in paper and store in the refrigerator. Do not store scallops in water. Fresh scallops should not be stored in the fridge for more than two days. Ideally scallops should be cooked or used within one day.
Scallops freeze very well. If your scallops won't be eaten within a day of purchasing, put them in the freezer to extend their shelf life. To freeze scallops, simply wrap them in plastic and put them in the coldest part of the freezer (i.e. not close to the door) for up to three months.
If you're using scallops that were frozen, remove them from the freezer and allow them to thaw in the fridge for up to one day.
There are many ways to prepare scallops, making them incredibly versatile. Scallops toughen very easily – especially the smaller bay scallops – so be careful not to overcook them.
Baking: Arrange scallops on a non-stick baking sheet, bake in a preheated oven set to 375° for 12 to 15 minutes, or until slightly firm.
Broiling: Rub scallops with olive oil and place under a heat source (3 to 4 inches away) and broil until light in colour and slightly firm.
Sautéing: Place scallops in a pan over medium high heat. Prevent scallops from sticking by adding a splash of wine, or olive oil. Cook until firm and white in colour.
As soon as scallops lose their translucent appearance and become opaque, they are done.
We suggest serving scallops with a light sauce to enhance the full sweet flavour of scallops.
Since scallops are so versatile, they're appropriate for recipes that include grilling, sautéing, broiling, or poaching.
Healthy Ways to Enjoy:
Serve grilled scallops with a refreshing papaya salsaSubstitute scallops for shrimp, crab or lobster in your favourite recipe.Skewer scallops with fresh vegetables and mango and broil in the ovenFor a quick, easy and healthy dish, rub scallops with Cajun seasoning and bake for 12 to 15 minutesEnjoy grilled scallops on bed of mixed greens with dried cranberries and balsamic vinaigrettePlace thawed scallops in a baking dish, drizzle with olive oil and some spices (try garlic, freshly ground black pepper and paprika), broil them until they are cooked through To lower the fat of the popular hors d'oeuvres of scallops wrapped in bacon, try using turkey bacon as an alternativeDid You Know?Scallops are hermaphroditic – that is, they are capable of switching sexes. Both sexes produce roe – red roe is from a female, white roe is from a male.Scallops may live up to 18 years! The rings of their shell are an indication of their age.While scallops have traditionally been gathered by dragging the seabed, there is an increasing trade in which scuba divers catch scallops by hand. This prevents disturbing the seabed, and results in scallops shells that are undamaged.
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