Commercial Scallop

Pecten fumatus

Other names: Common scallop, king scallop, scallop, sea scallop, southern scallop, Tasmanian scallop, Tassie scallop.

Family: Pectinidae (scallops).

Description:

This bottom-dwelling saltwater bivalve, found in open water, is available both farmed and wild-caught. It has an oval shell; the off white to pinky-red, flat top shell has ridges radiating out from the hinge and a sculptured (‘scalloped’) outer edge and the lower shell is distinctively convex. It’s harvested by diving or box-shaped, self-tipping ‘mud dredges’, mainly off Tasmania and Victoria with smaller quantities off Jervis Bay (NSW) and Coffin Bay and Spencer Gulf (SA), though it’s found south from Torquay, Queensland to Shark Bay, WA. It is endemic to Australia.

Season: Farmed Commercial Scallops are available year round, with wild mainly available from September to December.

Size and Weight: The meat averages 13g. The shell can grow to 14cm in length, though 8-9cm is common.

Price: High priced.

Relations:

The other main Scallop found in Australia is the Saucer Scallop (further divided into Northern Saucer and Ballot’s Saucer), distinguished by smooth, almost round, flat shells.

To Buy:

Usually sold as Scallop meat (by the kilo) or on the half shell (by the piece), with roe left on. Look for firm, intact, lustrous flesh and shells, with a pleasant fresh sea smell. Raw Scallop meat should be translucent and slightly ‘sticky’ indicating that it is ‘dry’, meaning it hasn’t been frozen or stored in water. If buying live Scallops, shells should be closed or close when tapped or gently squeezed.

To Store:

Refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months below -18ºC. Live molluscs should be consumed as soon as possible after purchase. Place in a container, cover with damp paper or cloth and keep in the warmest part of the refrigerator, usually the crisper (optimum 5ºC), ensuring that the covering remains damp.

To Cook:

Average yield in half-shell is 20% (roe on); off the shell it is almost 100% as they require no preparation beyond trimming off the dark vein running along the side of the meat. Has a rich flavour, low oiliness and moist, medium-firm, translucent, beige flesh when raw, turning opaque when cooked. Roe is orange to red.

Cooking Methods:

Steam, poach, deep-fry, pan-fry, stir-fry, bake, grill, barbecue, raw (sashimi). Scallops require even less cooking than most seafood. It is always better to undercook, rather than overcook, them, leaving the centre still translucent, as they will continue to cook in the residual heat once they are removed from the pan. Perfectly cooked they are sweet and succulent with a gentle firmness, overcooked they are shrunken, tough and tasteless. Roe adds a strong shellfish flavour to pâtés and soups.

Goes well with:

Avocado, breadcrumbs, butter, cauliflower, chilli, coriander, cream, dill, garlic, ginger, lemon, lime, mayonnaise, olive oil, Pernod, sesame, soy sauce.

Alternatives:

Nothing matches the flavour and texture of a perfectly cooked Scallop, but Blue Mussels can often be substituted in recipes calling for Scallops on the half shell.

Imports:

Frozen Scallop meat (sometimes roe on) is imported from Asia, New Zealand and North America. Farmed South American bay scallops (Argopecten purpuratus) are imported frozen on the half shell from Peru. Dried Scallop meat (con poy) is imported from Asia, where it’s considered a delicacy.

Recipes:

Scallop Mornay >