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Why You Should Try Scallops

The milky white medallion is as unassuming as it can be exquisite. No bones, no scales, and they come in almost perfect bite-size pieces. But they offer unique sweet, briny and succulent protein that has found its way from fancy restaurants to humble home kitchens.

Let’s talk about this unique shellfish and why you should consider adding them to your list of go-to seafood. 

What is a Scallop?

Scallops are bivalve mollusks, meaning they have two shells that are hinged together like clams, oysters and mussels. They are found in the ocean near gravelly seabeds. Scallops are filter feeders, meaning they eat by filtering plankton and other small particles from the water.

fresh scallop on shell

Did you know there are two types of scallop commonly harvested in Scottish waters? 

King Scallops

King Scallops, scientifically known as Pecten maximus, boast a regal appearance with their convex-shaped shells, often reaching shell sizes of up to 17cm in diameter. Their robust flavour is a result of their diverse diet, which includes plankton, algae, and small crustaceans. These magnificent creatures predominantly inhabit sandy or gravelly seabeds across temperate waters, from depths as shallow as 20 metres to as deep as 200 metres.

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Queen Scallops

Queen Scallops, or Chlamys opercularis, exhibit a more delicate appearance, with shells typically measuring around 10cm in diameter. Their diet comprises phytoplankton and small algae. They live in seabeds with fine sand or muddy substrates, often dwelling in shallower, coastal areas with a slightly lower salinity.

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What Do Scallops Taste Like?

King scallops tend to deliver a richer, meatier taste with a firmer texture, ideal for searing or grilling, preserving their inherent sweetness. On the other hand, queen scallops have a slightly more briny flavour than king scallops and a slightly firmer texture. 

Unlike how we eat clams, mussels or oysters, which we eat whole including all the guts, typically, we only eat the round white muscle that opens and closes the scallop shell. This muscle has a cleaner, more uniform texture and flavour. It doesn’t have any gritty, slimy or soft textures we find with oysters and other popular shellfish. 

grilled scallop

What is Scallop Roe and What Does it Taste Like?

Sometimes you will also find a bright orange crescent shaped attachment to the white muscle of the scallop. This is called the roe (or the ‘coral’) which you can also cook and eat. It has a  stronger briny flavour and a softer texture than the muscle. 

Scallop Nutritional Profile

Scallops are a good source of lean protein, low in fat and calories. A serving of 85 grams of steamed scallops typically provides around 17 grams of protein and amounts to less than 100 calories. 

This seafood is a good source of essential nutrients like vitamin B12, crucial for nerve function and red blood cell production. They also contain minerals such as selenium, zinc, and phosphorus, important for immune function, metabolism, and bone health. To a lesser extent they also provide omega-3 fatty acids, promoting heart health and contributing to overall well-being. 

Compared to some other types of seafood, scallops have low mercury levels, making them a safer choice, especially for pregnant women or those concerned about mercury consumption.

How Do You Cook Scallop?

Scallops are a versatile seafood ingredient that can be cooked in a variety of ways. But keep in mind that it is a lean protein so watch your cook time so as not to overcook and make it a rubbery. Because the flavour is delicate, go lighter on seasonings like fresh herbs, garlic, citrus, white wine and chili or paprika.  


Pan-searing is probably the most popular and easiest method to cook scallop. If done right you will have a crispy exterior and a tender, juicy interior. Remember to:

  1. Dry Scallops Before Cooking: Pat the scallops dry with a paper towel before cooking. Moisture on the surface can prevent proper browning and caramelization.
  1. Use High Heat: Scallop cooking time is short. Heat a pan (preferably non-stick or well-seasoned cast iron) on high heat with a bit of oil or butter. The pan needs to be hot to create a good sear without overcooking the inside.
  1. Don’t Overcrowd the Pan: Give scallops space in the pan. Overcrowding can reduce the pan’s heat and cause the scallops to steam rather than sear.
  1. Season Just Before Cooking: Season the scallops lightly with salt and pepper just before cooking to avoid drawing out excess moisture.
  1. Cook Briefly: Cook the scallops for about 1-2 minutes on each side, depending on their size. They should turn a golden brown colour on the outside while remaining slightly translucent in the centre. Overcooking will result in tough, rubbery scallops.
  1. Avoid Disturbing the Scallops: Let them cook without moving them around too much. This helps in achieving a nice sear.
  1. Add Flavour with Butter and Herbs: Consider adding butter and herbs (like thyme or rosemary) to the pan during the last moments of cooking. Baste the scallops with the infused butter for added flavour.
seared scallop
  1. Serve Immediately: Scallops are best served immediately after cooking to preserve their tenderness and flavour.

Check out this simple, easy and delicious pan-fried scallop starter


This method produces scallops with a smoky flavour and a slightly charred exterior. You can also grill them on the shell to keep them moist, and so they don’t stick to the grill and can hold more of the seasoning. Here is a grilled scallop dish with oyster sauce and other Asian flavours. 


Ceviche is a raw seafood dish that is made with scallops, lime juice, and other ingredients. It is a light and refreshing dish that is perfect for a summer meal. To make ceviche, simply combine diced scallops, lime juice, onions, cilantro, and other desired ingredients. This is another quick and easy dish that will let the delicate taste and texture of the scallop shine through. Try out this simple scallop ceviche recipe.  

scallop ceviche

Where To Buy Fresh Scallop?

To get the best culinary experience, get the freshest scallop available. Fresh scallops will have a translucent, milky white colour and a firm texture.

Fish Plaice offers fresh scallop for UK Delivery.

Click here for fresh king scallop delivery

Order here for fresh queen scallop delivery

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