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Kelsey Hansen

Select the best scallops with these handy tricks.

Barton Seaver
September 11, 2018

Scallops can be a tasty and healthy addition to any meal, but if you've ever had rubbery or overcooked ones you know how icky they can be. Here are four ways to ensure you're getting the best scallops from the grocery store, every time. 

Buy Dry-Packed Scallops 

Some fishermen and wholesalers soak scallops in a salt-based brine (sodium tripolyphosphate, or STP) to add moisture. However, this makes it hard to get a good sear. Sometimes there’s even a faint chemical aftertaste. Seek out scallops labeled “dry-packed” or “dry”—they don’t contain added brine.

Know Your Scallop Sizes 

Retailers describe scallop sizes according to how many are in a pound. The smaller the number, the bigger each scallop is. (U20 means there are under 20 scallops in a pound.) Diver scallops are the largest and most expensive because divers hand select them for size and quality. Bay scallops are tiny, numbering upward of 100 per pound.

Wild vs. Farmed 

Scallop farming is just starting to take off in the U.S.; most scallops sold here are wild-caught (here's a list of sustainable choices). American farmers are using Japanese techniques to bolster their harvests, so expect to see more farmed scallops in markets soon.

Don’t Dismiss Frozen 

As with many kinds of seafood, high-quality frozen scallops can be a very good choice if you don’t have access to fresh scallops. Frozen scallops should be thawed in the refrigerator overnight.