When you’re at the fish counter, you’ll often see sea scallops labeled two ways—“dry” and “wet.” (If they’re not marked, ask.) Whenever you can, choose the dry scallops. “Wet” scallops have been treated with a solution called STP (sodium tripolyphosphate), which helps the scallops maintain their moisture (they’re made up of about 75% water when fresh). The STP solution gives scallops a longer shelf life; they don’t dry out or lose their plump appearance. As a result, you’ll not only pay for the added water weight (and often get scallops that are less than fresh), but you’ll also have trouble browning these scallops—no matter how hot your pan or oven—because of all that excess moisture. The STP solution can also give scallops a rubbery texture and cloud the mollusk’s sweet, delicate flavor.
Tip: To get rid of the tough abductor muscle on a scallop, just peel it off, as shown in the photo.