Scallops: Wet vs. Dry

Scallops: Wet vs. Dry

January 17, 2019

Get the Lowdown on Domestic Atlantic Scallops

Before dissecting how scallops can fit into these two classifications, it’s important to know the delicacy of the wild-caught “Mollusk.”  Accompanying snails, sea slugs, octopuses, squids, oysters and clams in the Mollusk family, scallops uniquely swim away from predators with quick bursts and also glide the waters to “inhale” food through mucus membranes within the adductor.  Depending on the waters and coldness, food supply as plankton and rapid exercise by swimming away from predators searching out the protein-rich adductor, scallops develop into a large size: 1 ½ inches in diameter.  This exercised muscle in turn contains 80% protein per mass and affords the diner 20 grams of protein per a 3-ounce serving.  The cold Atlantic waters off New Bedford, Massachusetts exhibit ideal conditions for breeding currents for scallops; and in fact, this region offers the largest wild-caught waterway for plump, tender scallops.

Giving Reverence to the Scallop

Fisheries in the northern Atlantic waters carefully fish scallops from the cold waters and do so as not to over-fish.  Known as keeping catching to a minimal, watermen use a “bycatch technique.” Specifically, crew cast nets and use gear that exacts the catch and limits surfacing other species with the scallops.  Respecting the ecosystem and the pertinent ratios of species keeps the ocean waters teeming with scallops.  Likewise, analyzing charts and estimates from previous years partners with sustainable practices. Finally, limited dredging allows young scallops to grow.  With all factors at play, scallops self-replenish each year to the celebration of both chefs and seafood enthusiasts here and abroad. 

Wet vs. Dry

Knowing all the care that fisheries and the government employ to produce a plump, tender and briny sweet scallop, the processing question presents itself.  Should fisheries use preservatives to maintain scallop moisture and “shelf-life?”  The phosphates added help with initial moisture, but when cooked, the water evaporates leaving a less flavorful and smaller scallop and the taste hints at a soapy taste.  Many enthusiasts would rather cook their cuisine sooner to arrive at an ideally caramelized scallop and a sweet, natural flavor.  So, the ‘dry’ category respects all the care from the development of the adductor muscle in the cold waters and the carefully maintained ecosystem.  Some enthusiasts present a remedy in removing the preservative flavor before cooking.  Simply let the scallops soak in cold water mixed with lemon juice and salt for 30 minutes.  Whichever method you choose for your scallop quality, know that the scallop’s robust taste and perfectly seared texture comes from careful nurturing. Explore recipes that give this delicacy the position on the plate that it deserves!

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