Sitting plump and sweet in their beautiful fan-shaped shells, queen scallops are found 40 meters below sea level, buried in seabeds all around the world. Rich in vitamins, calcium, iron and omegas, as well as a great source of protein, these bivalve molluscs have been a reliable marine food source for centuries. Slightly more modest in size than king scallops, queen scallops are generally sweeter and tender in texture. Although fished throughout the British Isles, the Scottish coastline and Isle of Man are said to have some of the UK’s most favourable fishing locations for sourcing queen scallops.
Seasonal period: Season 1: December to February. Season 2: June to August.
Flavour friends: Queen scallops’ sweet, rich and meaty flavours long to be paired with dominant ingredients. Scallops are happily matched with meats such as bacon, black pudding and chorizo – it is the additional salty characteristics of such ingredients that helps to intensify these ‘surf ’n’ turf’ combinations. Like most seafood, queen scallops also love acidity. Lime and apple are two particular pairings that are a great contrast to this shellfish’s sweet characteristics.
Buying, storing and preparing: Scallops can be purchased in or out of their shells with the edible roe removed or attached. They should appear plump, firm and slightly off-white in colour. Look for scallops that have been sourced through a sustainable fishing method, ideally hand-dived or carefully fished rather than dredged. Refrigerate immediately after purchase and consume as soon as possible to ensure freshness. If storing in the fridge for an extended period of time, keep sealed in an airtight container. Scallops can also be frozen.
Cooking: Steamed, fried or grilled, scallops must be cooked quickly yet delicately – cook until opaque in appearance and just firm to touch.
Steam: 3 – 5 minutes. Fried: 1 – 2 minutes either side. Grilled: 2 -3 minutes either side.
Words by Helen Upshall