1. This popular bivalve mollusk (see both listings) has two beautiful fan-shaped shells that are often used as containers in which to serve dishes such as . Though the entire scallop including the roe is edible (and relished by many Europeans), the portion most commonly found in U.S. markets is the adductor muscle that hinges the two shells. There are many scallop species but in general they're classified into two broad groupsbay scallops and sea scallops. Bay scallops, generally found only on the East Coast, are very tiny (the muscle is about ½ inch in diameter). They average about 100 per pound and their meat is sweeter and more succulent than that of the sea scallop. They're also more expensive because they're less plentiful. The small calico scallopsthough they're deep-sea creaturesare often sold as bay scallops on the West Coast. They're found in the Gulf of Mexico and along the east coast of Florida. The muscle of the larger, more widely available sea scallop averages 1½ inches in diameter (about 30 to the pound) and is not as tender as the smaller varieties. Though slightly chewier, the meat is still sweet and moist. Diver scallops is a term used for those that are hand-picked by divers, whereas traditionally scallops are harvested by trawling boats using chains and nets. The shells of hand-harvested scallops aren't damaged as they might be with trawling, and the scallops don't contain as much grit. Naturally, this relatively labor-intensive harvest method means diver scallops command higher prices. One caveat: Many fishing industry experts say that regular trawled scallops are being sold as diver scallops. Bottom line: Find a fishmonger you can trust. The color of scallops ranges from pale beige to creamy pink. If scallops are stark white, it's a sign that they've been soaked in watera marketing ploy to increase the weight. Fresh bay scallops are available on the East Coast in the fall, whereas the peak season for fresh sea scallops is midfall to midspring. Because scallops perish quickly out of water, they're usually sold shucked. All fresh scallops should have a sweet smell and a fresh, moist sheen. They should be refrigerated immediately after purchase and used within a day or two. Frozen scallops are generally available year-round, either breaded or plain. Scallops benefit from brief cooking and are suitable for a variety of preparation methods including sautéing, grilling, broiling and poaching. They're also used in soups, stews and salads. See also mollusk; shellfish. 2. A thin, boneless, round- or oval-shaped slice of meat or fish that is usually lightly breaded and quickly sautéed. Known as escalope in French. scallop v.1. To prepare a food (most notably potatoes) by layering slices of it with cream or a creamy sauce in a casserole. Scalloped foods are often topped with bread or cracker crumbs before being baked. 2. To form a decorative edge in the raised rim of pie dough. Also referred to as crimp and flute.
From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.