The fall/winter fresh scallop season is nearly upon us. The most delicious of these amazing bi-valve mollusks will soon be at your local seafood counters. And I encourage you to partake! You won’t regret it!
However… almost every morning, I spread these tasty little critters out on my ice-cold case tray to proudly offer nature’s delectable bounty to my customers… and I always notice there are a few that look just a little different. Most are creamy white. But… some of them are starkly bright orange. WTHeck? And inevitably, after one look, customers will always say… “Oh… don’t give me THAT one! Is it old? Is it diseased?”
I humbly ask you to reconsider your disgust at the appearance of the orange scallop.
Well… because… she is simply… female. And she was harvested when she was spawning.
In the scallop, the male reproductive organ, or “roe” (sometimes also called the “coral”) is white and in the female it is red. And when she is about to release her eggs into the oceans’ waters, the over-abundance of the naturally occurring pigment that makes her roe red, called zeaxanthin, spills over into the adductor muscle (that is the part of the scallop you actually eat) and creates the dreaded orange scallop.
If ya ask me, it is basically bi-valve mollusk misogyny, plain and simple. Hehe.
AND… some official taste tests will tell you that these radical non-conformist females of the ocean world actually taste better… a little sweeter and more “buttery”. That has also been my own experience.
So head on into your local grocery or seafood market this fall and shock your fishmonger by saying, “Give me ALL of your orange scallops!”
Gloria Steinem would be proud of you!
Oh… and just a couple of final notes. Whether you buy the white or orange scallops… make sure that you are buying scallops that are “dry-packed”. “Wet-packed” scallops have been dipped in a bath of phosphates to add weight… potentially creating more profit for the distributor. And they’re mushy and nasty.
And since I have your attention regarding scallops… I just want to let you know that scallops have tiny blue eyes that line the mantle of their bi-valve shells… almost 200 in each individual scallop and they function much like a telescope. Scientists are now studying scallops to better understand the evolution of vision in all species.