Scallops are molluscs. Like mussels, oysters, clams and cockles. They live in very beautiful shells, in fact when you think of a ‘sea shell’ it will most usually be a scallop shell that you’ll picture.
So what’s been puzzling me for a while is this: if they’re from the same family as mussels, oysters etc. why do they not have to be cooked live as all their shelled cousins? But no, dead as a dodo they come from the fishmonger - where I live, sadly, not in lovely shells but from a plastic box. Still – dead. And will keep in the fridge for a day or two, though undoubtedly best spanking fresh.
Well, I’ve asked Uncle Google and it turns out that what we eat is not the whole animal but only a muscle that the little creatures use to hold on to their shells or expunge water to move forward. Coral – or roe – is usually attached too, and edible. Although The Weather Man sniffs at it – well, more for me.
Of course ideally you’d want to buy them live too but we don’t live in an ideal world but in the south east of England.
Fantastically healthy discs of pure protein, they are easy to cook but just as easy to overcook and turn rubbery. A minute on each side in a very hot pan, with butter which won’t get burnt in such a short time, and there you have an exquisite starter or a main if not that hungry.