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Fort on Scallops
Around our shores there are Great Scallops (big) and Queen Scallops (very small). There are dredged scallops (not good) and hand-dived scallops (good). Dredging destroys the seabed habitat and can result in scallops being muddy or gritty.
Hand-dived means they’ve been selected individually by licensed divers, which in theory should produce a better class of scallop. They also tend to more expensive. You pays your money and you takes your choice. Either way, always buy your scallops in the shell, unless you have a close and trusting relationship with whoever sells you your fish. And beware, above all, of scallops sitting in liquid. The big white adductor muscle, the main eating bit, acts as a sponge just soaking up the water in which they sit. When you come to cook them, they will shrink alarmingly, exuding a lot of milky fluid as they do so.
The fresher the scallop, the sweeter and naturally firmer it will be. Most scallops have hermaphroditic tendencies, so when you eat them, you’re also eating both sets of sexual organs. The female organs are bright orange, the male a pale, white-ish colour. Perhaps that’s why scallop shells were once seen as symbols of fertility.
Article written by Matthew Fort
What Scallop Goes With
Scallops can be paired with a plethora of ingredients – from black pudding to blackberry. Their sinewy textures are ideal for absorbing other flavours and the scallop can be taken to new heights by infusing with a simple coriander and ginger dressing. Served raw, they are great in ceviches and carpaccios alongside zestier notes.
South East Asian flavours often feature alongside scallops; Shaun Rankin has a wonderful curried scallops dish while Matthew Tomkinson often serves scallops with a warming cumin velouté.
Over the last few years, there has been a tendency among chefs to use the prized scallop as an accompaniment to fish or meat components, as in Mark Jordan’s dish here, and Robert Thompson’s dish here.
The difficulty with scallops is that they can be off-putting if not cooked correctly, ending up either mushy or too rubbery. Have a look at our article on how to cook fried scallops to ensure you get them right every time.
By the Sea