Selecting Great Scallops

Take the time to find a good place to purchase your scallops from.   A good seafood store that is busy shows that the product moves fast and that is a key to great seafood.  A slow establishment gives me pause.  In my case I found my local Wegman’s and Fresh Fields are great sources that move a lot of product.

You can buy either fresh or frozen, because 90% of the time what you are buying form the counter is in fact thawed product anyhow.  I get lucky at my counter and they actually use the best sea scallops you can find.  Diver dry packed scallops.  What makes them so special?  Well they are actually hand picked by divers, then the flesh is removed and packed dry, not is some watery liquid.  This is just not a flavor enhancement in any way.

If you use frozen, and I have on occasion, make sure you buy IQF (Individually Quick Frozen) This is similar in concept to the above in that each one is frozen right as it is picked.  A side benefit is only thawing how many you need.  When you that, do so in the refrigerator over night.  If that is not possible, the only method to speed things up is under cool water (72 degrees or less) and wrapped in plastic zip top bags so water does not touch the flesh.  I double bag mine just to be sure.  The scallops should remain under water at all times with the water running into the container at all times.  This can thaw them in quick order, about 15-30 minutes.

Last is check the quality.  The best seafood should smell “like the sea”, but not necessarily like New Jersey (sorry Snookie)  They should have a soft smell, and not have the Iodine scent, which is a sure sign of degrading.  Next the flesh should be firm, and should bounce back when you press on it.  It should never be mushy.  Most scallops will have the muscle on the side of them.  This is a good sign, we know its a true scallop.  These should also be removed before cooking, they bring nothing to the party (like my friend Sam).


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