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Ask Dr. Gourmet

Where can I find "chemical free" scallops?

Now I understand why most scallops I buy at the store are bitter and why some are delicious, I was going crazy trying to figure it out and had given up scallops.

I've never seen scallops labeled "chemical free." Where can I find such scallops? Any grocery store chains that you know of?

Dr. Gourmet Says....

fresh sea scallops on a bed of lettuce

Usually only the specialty grocery stores will make such claims with their scallops. Likewise, they are the ones that are more likely to carry the better product.

Major grocery chains for the most part do purchase lesser quality scallops and these have been treated with chemicals. You can ask to smell them and a good fish counter should let you. Good quality scallops should smell just like the ocean - fresh, clean with that slightly salty air that you smell when standing on the beach. If they have been treated with chemicals, they smell like they've been treated with chemicals - kind of like a sterile operating room.

I have found that Whole Foods and Harris Teeter are two major chains that do care for their scallops, but again, the proof is in the sniff test.

Thanks for writing,

Timothy S. Harlan, MD, FACP
Dr. Gourmet