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Wet Versus Dry Scallops

"Wet-packed" scallops (left), "dry-packed" scallops (right).

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When shopping for sea or bay scallops to use for recipes, look for “dry-packed” scallops. These have been shucked and shipped packed on ice, with no chemical additives. They tend to have a slightly pink or off-white hue and a pleasant sea smell. Avoid the very white “wet-packed” scallops that are sold in many supermarkets. These have been soaked in a solution containing phosphate, a whitening agent that keeps them fresh longer but also allows them to soak up more water, increasing their weight by almost 30 percent. They tend to release a lot of liquid when they’re cooked, causing them to steam rather than sear to a nice caramelized crust. Phosphate also gives the scallops a slightly soapy flavor.

Scallop prep Sea scallops often come with their tough adductor muscle still attached. to remove it, just gently pull it off–no knife necessary. On bay scallops, this muscle is so small that removing it is optional.

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