from Boston Sword & Tuna
Scallops are a bivalve mollusk and the part that is eaten is called the abductor muscle, which is responsible for holding the two exterior shells together. They are a major commodity in the United States, and the two types of fresh scallops we purchase and sell here at Boston Sword & Tuna are the sea scallop and the bay scallop. Although they share many similar qualities, there are several fundamental differences between these two types of fresh scallops.
Sea scallops are the primary source of product consumed in the United States, with North Atlantic sea scallops setting the bar for quality. At BST, we strictly purchase these hard bottom, north Atlantic scallops, which is in line with our commitment to deliver our customers “All the Best” in Seafood & Shellfish. Although many other companies purchase Japanese products and various other bogus products available on the market, sometimes even cutting what they sell as true north Atlantic seas with these poor quality products and selling them as north Atlantics, we guarantee only a true hard bottom, north Atlantic product.
Hard bottom, north Atlantic sea scallops are primarily caught on or around Georges Bank near New England and the Canadian Maritimes. They are then brought to shore along the northeast United States and Canada. New Bedford, MA is considered the headquarters for wholesale scallop business in the United States, and the New Bedford sea scallop auction plays a focal role in determining the daily market price for fresh scallops.
Bay scallops, on the other hand, are considered a premium scallop product as they are often much sweeter and frequently enjoyed raw. True bay scallops are found domestically along the Eastern Seaboard, and this scallop is referred to as either a Nantucket Bay, Martha’s Vineyard Bay, or Cape Cod Bay scallop. Because these scallops are so small and succulent, they are much sweeter to taste than sea scallops. Furthermore, the scarcity of this product and limited seasons, in addition to the superior taste, drives the price of true bay scallops up beyond the price of even the best quality sea scallops. As such, many inferior scallops from other locations are often passed off as bay scallops. As a matter of fact, the majority of “bay scallops” marketed in the United States are actually frozen Chinese product with the inflated price of true domestic bay scallops. Despite this fact, though, a good old fashioned taste test will easily differentiate the two products.
The meat of a scallop is a creamy white color with an almost translucent appeal. Because of their delicate texture they don’t require much cooking, and overcooking is a mistake that will deplete the texture and taste, much like with steak. A quality scallop should be firm and steadily maintain its form. It should be sweet to taste, and possess mild to salty features.
North Atlantic sea scallops can grow to a width of eight inches and the adductor can be almost two inches in diameter. Like our seasonal bay scallops, we purchase our sea scallops directly from the source. Once purchased, we then wash and grade them in various size increments, typically consisting of U-10 (under ten), 10-20, 20-30 and 30-40 count per pound.