Scallops have always been ‘little morsels of heaven’ for me. I love scallops. Big ones, little ones, it doesn’t matter. They are just delicious. Scallops are one of the few shellfish that are almost immediately shucked as soon as they are caught. Hopefully ‘caught’ as in wild, and not harvested, as in farmed scallops. Another post, another day!
Scallops grow in those pretty hinged shells. The abductor muscle holds the shell together. This muscle is what we enjoy eating. The abductor muscle on the scallop is not strong enough to force the shells to shut completely. Scallops shells are always partially open, unlike an oyster or a clam which can shut itself tightly. As a result as soon as the scallop leaves the water it begins to loose precious moisture and the flesh we eat begins to deteriorate. The meat is plucked from the shell and chilled until you pop it in your mouth.
Scallops, just like every other shellfish or fish, or any edible critter from the water you want to eat should smell like the ocean. Catch a fishy smell? Pass on that purchase and find a new market as a source for your seafood. Seafood should never, never, never smell fishy. Seafood should smell fresh! Purchase your scallops dry packed, or if you must buy frozen scallops.
Purchase those that are flash frozen, and not packed in water. Never, never, never, purchase scallops that are stored in tubs of a white milky liquid. That white liquid is STP, or sodium tripolyphosphate. STP increases the moisture level and the shelf life of food. STP can cause scallops to increase their weight due to moisture addition by an easy 25%. When you pay by the pound, that is significant. That same moisture will disappear as soon as you cook the scallop. Sadly, all the STP does not leave your shellfish as the moisture does. In some cases scallops have has much at 80% added moisture and STP. Once a scallop reaches 80% moisture they technically have to labeled as a scallop product, and not as scallops.
STP is an inorganic compound. It is sodium based. There have been studies showing STP in your diet is not a good choice. So the next time you decide to purchase scallops choose the scallops that are dry packed, or fresh if you are very lucky. If nothing else purchase flash-frozen scallops. Pass on the large sea scallops, or the small bay scallops immersed in white, milky liquid. It ‘isn’t ‘scallop juice’ as one market person recently told me. It is indeed STP, and not something you want as part of your diet. Good scallops can be pricey but if of good quality worth the price. A serving of large sea scallops is about 4 per person, so they are a bit more affordable than perhaps you thought!