What Does Scallops Taste Like? (Are They Good?)

Scallops are excellent and delicious shellfish that are in the bivalve’s mollusk family.  Scallops have a white adductor muscle.  This is the part of the flesh we eat and it closes and opens the shell of the scallop.  That muscle is round and tender and excellent to eat.  But for those of us who have never eaten a scallop, you may ask the question what does scallops taste like?  And are they good?  

So, what do scallops taste like?   The scallop muscle is tender and round and when cooked they have a wonderful briny saltiness with a touch of sweetness.  They can be cooked in many different ways while each bringing out the natural flavors of the scallop’s natural flavors.

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what type of scallops are there? And do they taste different?

There are two types of scallops that we eat.   The sea scallop and the bay scallop.  The sea scallops are larger and can be as large as two inches.  The bay scallop is much smaller in size and is also tender.

Sea scallops are what you get when you order pan-seared scallops at most restaurants.  The larger size holds up better than sea scallops.  They still have a great taste just not as tender or sweet as bay scallops.  

Bay scallops are used more in liquid-based dishes like stews and other dishes.  They are much smaller, tender, and sweeter.

Where do scallops come from?

Bay scallops and sea scallops come from different places.  The bay scallops are found in shallow waters on the East Coast like estuaries and bays. 

Florida on the upper west coast has open seasons from July to the early part of October where you can dive for them.  

Scallop populations on the East Coast have shrunk in recent decades and because of this a lot of Scallops we eat are imported from Mexico and China.

Scallop Nutrition

Scallops are very nutritious and have excellent sources of minerals that include copper, zinc, and selenium.

The below is based on 84 grams or three ounces. 

  • Calories: 94
  • Fat: 1.2 grams
  • Carbs: 0
  • Vitamin B12: 18 percent
  • Protein: 195 grams
  • Calcium: 9 percent of the DV
  • Magnesium: 12 percent of the DV
  • Iron: 15 percent of the DV
  • Omega-3 fatty acids: 333 mg
  • Phosphorous: 27 percent of the DV
  • Zinc: 18 percent of the DV
  • Potassium: 12 percent of the DV
  • Copper: 12 percent of the DV
  • Selenium: 33 percent of the DV

Dry versus Wet Packed Scallops

There is a difference in how you can purchase scallops.   Either dry-packed or web packed.  The difference is as follows.

Wet packed scallops are treated with chemicals and water to extend shelf-life and the weight of the scallop.

Dry-packed scallops on the other hand to don’t contain any additives.  Dry packed scallops are what chefs and experienced home cooks look for when picking scallops for the best taste.

What do bad scallops taste and smell like?

Like any other seafood, you do not want to eat bad or spoiled seafood.  You can get very sick by doing so.  In terms of scallops if they smell or taste like ammonia that are no good and considered to be spoiled and you should not eat them. 

Another indicator that a scallop is going bad or is bad is a strong fishy smell.  Scallops have a beautifully mild and unique taste and should not have a strong fishy smell. 

If they do it is an indication that is spoiled or at the point of being bad.  Scallops should not smell at all but only a slight ocean smell or sweet smell

You may have bad scallops if:

  • They have a strong fish smell
  • Brownish hue to them
  • Lots of front in the packaging
  • Sicky or slimy appearance
  • Smell like ammonia

How to cook scallops for best taste

sea scallops

scallops have a wonderful taste and can be cooked in different ways from on the grill to in the oven.  Below are some of the best ways to cook scallop for the best taste. 

Pan-Seared sea scallops

Pan-seared sea scallops are delicious and easy to make.  It consists of a hot pan some olive oil, salt, and pepper, and butter.  Fifeenspatulas.com has a great recipe for pan-seared scallops.

Making scallops this way is one of the quickest ways to cook sea scallops and one of the truest ways to really taste the flavors of a scallop. 

Lemon Butter Scallops

Scallops pair really well with lemon and butter.  This is another pan recipe but with a few more ingredients.  To learn how to make this recipe head over to damndelcious.net to see how to whip up this awesome scallop meal. 

Our final thoughts on the taste of scallops

Scallops are a very mild slightly sweet, ocean flavor that is excellent tasting.  Cooking scallops are easy and only need a few ingredients to bring out the natural flavors of a scallop. 

When cooking scallops over the grill, oven, or pan you will want to use the larger sea scallops.  When making stews or soups go with bay scallops for their tenderness and sweetness.

If you have not tried scallops we highly recommend you do, you will not be disappointed. 

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About ASmith

Adam loves cooking and cooking products like cookware, tools, gadgets, and more to help make cooking easier in the kitchen. When Adam is not trying out new kitchen tools in the kitchen you find him researching the next best kitchen gadgets.