The scallop, like the oyster, is a bivalve mollusk. Oysters live their life attached to the bottom, while scallops move about by swimming. Scallops swim by snapping their shells together and expelling a jet of water. This action leads to the development of an oversized adductor muscle called the "eye." This sweet-flavored muscle is the only part of the scallop eaten by Americans, but Europeans eat the entire shucked scallop.
The name, "scallop," aptly describes the fluted edges of its fan-shaped shell. The shells of young scallops are beautiful. The outside shell is delicately colored pink and white and the inside is pearly-white, with a satiny luster. Calico scallop meats vary from creamy white to light tan or pink. They measure about 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch in diameter. Calico are generally lower in price than other scallop meats, which makes them a good buy.
Calico scallops are harvested with trawls and dredges in deep offshore waters of Florida's Atlantic and northern Gulf coasts. Heaviest catches occur during the months of September through December. Scallops do not close their shells tightly like oysters and clams. They must be shucked soon after harvest or they lose body moisture. Fresh-shucked scallop meats should be refrigerated on ice (35-40 degrees F.) and will maintain quality for two days. Frozen scallop meats, held at 0 degree F. or less, will maintain quality for three to four months. In choosing scallop meats, examine the product for a creamy color, firm texture, and a mild, sweet odor. Packages of scallop meats should be practically free of liquid.
Scallops may be poached, sauteed, broiled, baked, or fried. They should be cooked quickly to maintain moisture and delicate texture.
Approximate nutritional values for 4 ounces (114 grams ) of raw, edible portion: calories--100; calories from fat--10; total fat--1 gram; saturated fat-- 0 gram; cholesterol-- 40 milligrams; sodium--100 milligrams; carbohydrate--3 grams*; protein--18 grams; calcium--2% RDI**; iron-- 0% RDI.
* Dietary fiber and sugars exist in insignificant amounts in seafoods.
** RDI means Recommended Daily Intake.