Sea Scallop

Species Information

Sea scallops are bivalve mollusks with large, hard, white shells marked by radiating ribs and growth rings. Adult scallops form dense aggregations called "beds" on the ocean floor. Commercially valuable scallop beds are usually found at depths between 59 and 360 feet.

Sea scallops are filter feeders—they filter their food out of the water, which can help to improve water clarity by removing suspended materials from the water.

Sea scallops are harvested and rarely survive the trip to the water's surface, so they are usually shucked immediately after capture. They are the largest and most important type of scallop. Because of the depths from which they are harvested sea scallops are also called Atlantic deep-sea scallops.

Cooking & Handling

Store shucked scallops refrigerated up to 2 days. Cover live scallops with a damp towel, refrigerate, and use at most one day later. A healthy live scallop should close tightly when tapped. Scallops freeze well.

The fresher the scallop, the more translucent it will be. "Wet" scallops are soaked in a chemical solution to preserve them and will be flabby and opaque as well as lose excess liquid quickly. "Dry" scallops or untreated scallops are best.

Though large, sea scallops cook quickly. Do not microwave scallops as they can explode at higher settings.

Scallops are a good low-fat source of protein and are high in selenium and B vitamins.

Flavors that work well with sea scallops are avocado, brandy, cilantro, cream, garlic, lemon, lime, mango, olive oil, papaya, sweet corn, sweet potato, tarragon, thyme, tomato, vinegar and white wine.

Cooking Methods

Bake, Broil, Fry, Grill, Sauté, Steam

Global Supply

Argentina, Canada, Iceland, Japan, Russia, United States

Seasonal Availability

Fresh and frozen sea scallops are available year-round.

Did You Know?

Scallops use a strong, circular muscle to clap their shells together, letting them "fly" through the water. It is this circular (abductor) muscle that is prized as seafood.

Sea scallops are usually caught by dragging heavy nets along the sandy seafloor.

New Bedford, MA is the largest sea scallop port and usually sets the price. Virginia, New York and New Jersey are also important suppliers.

The decorative scallop shell is featured in Botticelli's famed painting The Birth of Venus.

Scientific Name

Pandalas spp.

Market Name


Common Names

Sea scallop


Bay scallops

Raw Characteristics

  • marshmallow-shaped adductor muscle
  • creamy white to pink-beige
  • translucence and elastic springiness
  • market weight 20–30 per lb

Cooked Characteristics

  • mild to briny flavor; sweet, rich taste
  • opaque white meat
  • firm, lean texture


French: pétoncle
German: atlantischer tiefwasser
Italian: ventaglio
Japanese: hotategai
Spanish: vieira