Scallops: What are they? And what is the best way to cook them?

From frying, grilling to cooking it in the oven

With its delicious and refined taste, the scallop is very popular with many. But what exactly is a scallop and how can you best cook it? We’ll go into that in more detail below.

Chapter 1

What are scallops?

A scallop is the meat of the Sint-Jacobs shell. In French it’s called “Coquille” which means shell. That also means that the Sint-Jacobs shell is a shellfish. In restaurants they have been given the French name Coquille St. Jacques.

The scallop, together with oysters and mussels, belongs to the bivalves. The upper shell is flat and has a brown-pink color. The lower shell is hollow and has a white to soft pink color.

The shell is normally 10 to 12 cm wide, but can sometimes reach 17 cm. These creatures live in the sand on the seabed to a depth of 100 meters. The scallop lives on algae and plankton that it filters out of the water.

On the shell are light-sensitive organs, a kind of eyes that stand on tentacles on the edge of the mantle. The reflection of the light allows the scallops to distinguish between light and dark. This way, they can detect enemies and possibly flee. By moving its valves, the shell can swim away or simply close the valves to protect itself.

It is nice to know that the scallop shell was the model for the world-famous yellow-red shell logo of the Dutch-British oil company Shell. In the logo, the shell is depicted with the closure at the bottom.

A little history

The scallop has a beautifully shaped and striking pinkish fan shell. The soft round fish meat in the shell has been seen as a delicacy for centuries.

The scallop shell has become the symbol for the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain. This is where the tomb of the holy St. Jacob is located. In the Middle Ages, pilgrims took the shells with them to show that they had completed the route, hence the name.

Chapter 2

Where do scallops come from?

Scallops are mainly found on the coasts of Portugal, Spain, France, Norway and Scotland. Most scallops supplied to Europe are caught in the wild. The period in which fishing is allowed is subject to strict rules to prevent overfishing.

It is not allowed to fish for shells smaller than 11 cm. Due to these strict rules, mainly China and Japan have switched to breeding scallops and they have become experts in this.

In France, scallops are caught using the beam trawl technique. In this form of fishing, the scallops are dragged from the bottom with large nets. While this technique is efficient and makes the scallops somewhat cheaper, it compromises quality because the shells can get damaged.

To avoid this, the shells are surfaced by hand. This technique is more labor-intensive but produces undamaged and larger shells.

The scallops are supplied between November and March, but February and March are the peak season. Then scallops are available in abundance.

It is best to buy the scallops from the fishmonger or the fish stall at the market. Fresh scallops are firm and smell like the sea, not fish.

Chapter 3

How do scallops taste?

The flesh of scallops has a buttery texture with a nutty flavor. Connoisseurs want to keep the taste intact as much as possible and therefore do not add too much spice. It is preferable to eat your scallops fresh on the day of purchase. But they can be kept fresh in the refrigerator for up to two days.

Chapter 4

Can you eat them raw?

You can eat scallops raw. When they are raw, they are sweet and tender. It is very important that you buy the scallops super fresh. Always try to find out from the fishmonger if they were delivered by a day boat because then they are usually very fresh.

Chapter 5

Are scallops healthy?

Scallops are low in calories and saturated fat and are a good source of nutrients, such as vitamins B2 and B12, omega-3 fats, and the minerals iodine, phosphorus and selenium.

Vitamin B2 and B12 play a role in energy management and reducing fatigue, among other things. The minerals ensure strong bones and proper functioning of the thyroid gland.

Chapter 6

Which wine pairs well with scallops?

Scallops can be combined with a Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Blanc or a Riesling. Choose a solid white wine with strong aromas where the mineral notes are present.

Chapter 7

How to cook scallops?

Scallops can be combined well with fresh dill, garlic, tarragon, parsley, lemon, fresh grated ginger and olive oil. You can cook them in different ways such as baking, grilling, frying, baking in the oven and sautéing. Don’t do this for too long as they will get tough.

Tip: To give the scallops a crispy outside, it is best to first pat them dry with some kitchen paper, otherwise there will be too much moisture in the pan. You then have a good chance that the outside of your scallops will not caramelize and therefore will not get that delicious crispy layer.

Tip: It is also important to only add the salt right before you put the scallops in the pan. If you add the salt earlier, it will remove the moisture from the scallops and you will still have a pan that is too moist. Perfectly cooked scallops are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.

Tip: It is recommended not to cook more than 6 scallops at a time. The pan then cools down too much and then too much moisture will still enter the pan. So, bake them in quantities of up to 6 scallops for the desired result.

How do you clean them?

You can buy cleaned scallops at the fishmonger, but also scallops in the shell. You can easily clean these yourself.

  1. With a thin sharp knife, cut as close to the flat side of the shells as possible.
  2. Remove the top, flat shell.
  3. Carefully cut the scallop meat loose.
  4. Remove the scallop from the shell and remove the membrane.
  5. The roe of the scallop is in the orange bag, also called the coral.
  6. Rinse the scallop under cold water.

You can simply bake the coral of the scallop. It is very tasty and has a more intense taste than the white meat.

How many per person?

Scallops can fill you up very quickly. If you’re cooking smaller scallops, you can therefore serve 3 scallops per person and for larger ones, 2 are sufficient.

In the pan

Scallops need to be baked very briefly and always at a high temperature. It is ok if they are still a little raw on the inside.

  1. Heat a cast iron pan or frying pan with a non-stick coating and add oil.
  2. Sprinkle the scallops with some salt and place them in the pan.
  3. After 2 minutes of baking, turn them over.
  4. Add a large knob of butter for even more flavor.
  5. Cook the scallops on the other side for 2 minutes, tilting the pan so that the butter comes to one side.
  6. Spoon the melted butter over the top of the scallops to give them extra flavor as well.
  7. Remove the scallops from the pan and serve.

In the oven

Scallops are cooked at a medium temperature in the oven.

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 °C.
  2. Place the scallops flatly in a baking dish or on a baking sheet.
  3. Grease them with some oil.
  4. Put them in the oven for 10 minutes.
  5. Remove them from the oven and serve them.

On the barbecue

Scallops are grilled very briefly and always at a high temperature.

  1. Make sure the barbecue is at its hottest.
  2. Brush the scallops lightly with oil.
  3. Place them on the hot grill.
  4. After 2 minutes, turn the scallops over.
  5. Let them grill for another 2 minutes on the other side.
  6. Remove the scallops from the grill and serve them.

Chapter 8

Recipe: Pan seared halibut fillet with beurre blanc

Geen beoordelingen

Scallops with hollandaise-soy sauce and fried prosciutto

Delicious scallops with a hollandaise-soy sauce and fried prosciutto.
Servings: 2 persons
Author: Cultiviz


  • 6 scallops
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 4 slices prosciutto

Hollandaise-soy sauce

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 200 g butter unsalted
  • 1 lemon juice
  • pinch salt
  • pinch pepper
  • soy
  • 1 shallot minced


For the prosciutto

  • Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Place the slices of ham on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Put them in the oven for 8 minutes.

For the hollandaise soy sauce

  • Bring a about 2 centimetres of water to the boil in a pan.
  • Beat the egg yolk with the tbsp of water in a heat resistant bowl.
  • Lower the heat and wait until the water bubbles reduce. Place the heat resistant bowl on top of the pan. Make sure the bottom does not touch the water in the pan. Then, while stirring, heat the yolks to a temperature of 60°C.
  • Then add the cubes of butter one by one and always wait with the next one until the previous cube has melted. Meanwhile, keep stirring continuously with a whisk, to make sure that the egg yolks cannot set. If it threatens to solidify, add a tablespoon of water.
  • Remove the bowl from the pan when all the cubes have melted. Season the sauce with lemon juice and some salt and pepper.
  • Then add the soy and chopped shallot.

For the scallops

  • Heat a cast iron pan or frying pan with a non-stick coating and add oil.
  • Sprinkle the scallops with some salt and place them in the pan.
  • After 2 minutes of baking, turn them over.
  • Remove them from the pan and place them on the plates. Decorate them with hollandaise-soy sauce and add the slices of ham.

Chapter 9

All recipes

Looking for more inspiration? Then see below more recipes with scallops. Or check our fish recipes for even more inspiration.

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Scallops with hollandaise-soy sauce and fried prosciutto

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Grilled scallops

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