Outer scallop shell.
Scallop meat in the shell.
What you purchase in the market are actually the muscle that holds the two shells of the scallop together. Sea scallops are about 1 1/2 inches in diameter and should be a translucent beige, creamy color. Some will be slightly pink. (See also Bay Scallops.)
The best quality is "dry" or "dry pack" sea scallops. These are packed in muslin bags and kept on ice.
Because scallops don't live well out of water (as clams or oysters can) they are shucked when caught and kept chilled on board the fishing boat. Day boat scallops are the freshest and are so named because they are delivered to market the day of harvest.
If they are wet or white looking, they have been soaked in water to increase their weight. For years, many scallops have been treated with sodium tripolyphosphate (STP). These chemicals help to retain the natural moisture, but in excess, STP promotes the absorption of water into the scallop. This can increase the weight by as much as 25% and makes for a wet gummy scallop. The STP-treated scallops take on a white, opaque appearance and have a bitter chemical flavor. Look for scallops labeled "chemical free."
4 ounces sea scallops = 100 calories, <1g fat, 0g sat fat, 0g mono fat, 19g protein, 3g carbohydrates, 182mg sodium, 37mg cholesterol
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