What are Scallops – What Does It Taste Like?

Scallops are free-swimming bivalved mollusks that are found in salt water like the Atlantic Ocean. It has been recognized as a creature that lives under a two hinged shell made up of calcium carbonate. The creature has an adductor muscle that helps it to open and close the shell for movement in the water. The scallop is a member of the Pectinidae family that carries almost 400 different species. A scallop is an omnivore invertebrate having 1-6 inches of width of the shell. The creature has a life span of approximately 20 years. Scallops live in the habitat of shallow marine across the globe.

Phylum Mollusca is the group to which Scallop belongs to including other animals, such as sea slugs, squid, mussel, oysters, mussels, and oysters. The creature has almost 50 to 100 eyes that help it to detect motion, light, and dark. Atlantic sea scallops have large shells, as long as 9 inches whereas Bay scallops are approximately 4 inches. It’s easier to distinguish their genders as the reproductive organs of males are white while the females are red.

Habitat and Range

These organisms are found in the deep sea. Most of the scallops attach themselves with shallow sandy bottoms and some of them with the rocks. Most of the Atlantic sea scallops found in the shallow open water of Canadian border to mid-Atlantic while bay scallops are found from New Jersey to Florida in estuaries. Also, a greater population of these organisms are found on the coast from Peru to Chile, in the Sea of Japan, and from China.


Scallops are categorized into three different varieties:

– Sea scallops

They often measure a diameter of 2 inches, one of the largest types, commonly available in the market all year long.

– Bay scallops

Bay scallops

They are the smallest but sweetest usually found from October to March.

– Calico scallops

Calico scallops

They are found in Southern Atlantic and US Gulf coasts from December to May.


They eat small organisms by filtering such as algae, krill, and larvae in the water they live. The mucus of a scallop traps plankton after which the cilia move it further into the mouth.


Scallops swim by the help of adductor muscles that claps its shell to initiate movement. Adductor muscle is round and fleshy that can be easily recognized by the people who eat seafood. However, this muscle can be as big as 2 inches in diameter in an Atlantic sea scallop that varies from white to beige in color.


Many of these creatures are hermaphrodites (having sex organs of both male and female). They reproduce by releasing egg and sperm in the water, this process is called spawning. Once the egg gets fertilized, it settles to the sea floor and grows to become a free swimmer.

Conservation Status

Since the organism is responsibly harvested and sustainably managed, it is not endangered. However, the biggest threat to their survival is the ocean acidification that inhibits them to develop strong shells.

Scallops and Humans

The shells of the organism are recognizable with a range of color from gray to multihued and vivid. These are a symbol of a fisherman, St. James, in Galilea. He was buried in Spain that eventually became a shrine site. Those who visit Spain often carry or wear scallop shells. It is also an emblem of Royal Dutch Shell, a petrochemical giant.

Scallops as a seafood

Scallops are recognized as seafood that is commercially harvested. Most of the species are offered at extremely high prices. They are Aequipecten irradians, A. opercularis, and Placopecten magellanicus. Adductor muscle is an essential part of the creature that is classically cooked and eaten. Although they are widely harvested across the world, the most productive ones are found off the coast of Massachusetts and Canada in the Bay of Fundy.

It might be frustrating for the ones who have never eaten it before to see the chefs enjoying cooking it. They are like some kind of fishes because of its taste and texture unless they are bought from the market. People brand it as “candy of the sea” because of its unique taste. It has a fleshy texture that is a bit slimy. Those who prefer sweet over salty, scallops are the best choice for them. It must also be considered that sea scallops are sweeter than the bay scallops.

Scallops are similar to oyster, salmon, cod, lobster, squid, octopus, and shrimp in taste for a seafood enthusiast. They have texture firmer than a lobster or crab. It tends to be delicate, buttery and sweet. Scallops, when cooked properly, leaves a fantastic flavor among the seafood. They possess fresh taste and smell of salt water like all other seafood. They become moist and loving with flavor.

People are choosy to eat seafood because of its unique flavor. Cooks usually prefer cooking it because they do not have to add additional spices and flavors to it. The original flavor of it can only be realized when they are rightly cooked.

It is important to note that overcooking might affect its delicate texture and buttery taste. If someone might have done it, would find it similar to a tough rubber.

Scallops are best cooked with the following ingredients:

  • Scallops are fantastically cooked with butter that offers a creamy richness to it.
  • Garlic, in small amount, adds an earthy taste to it.
  • They are also cooked with lemon juice and apple in little quantity.
  • Scallops may be used as “surf and turf”, that is, adding red meat to the seafood.

Grilled Scallops

Grilled Scallops

Grilled scallops are usually eaten with fruits and veggies.

Deep-Fried Scallops

Deep-Fried Scallops

Like everything else, scallops can be deep fried by adding a batter of flour, salt, breadcrumbs, and egg. A delicate scallop would turn out to be a golden crispy treat to enjoy. Scallops and chips is a better option than fish and chips.

Many seafood dishes, especially scallops are cooked through adding a variety of ingredients and ways to offer a unique flavor.

Leave a Comment