Scallops are low in calories, fat, carbohydrates and cholesterol, so it's a nutritional crime when they are breaded and deep-fried or drowned in a fat-laden casserole.
Health experts recommend eating at least two seafood meals a week as part of a healthy diet. Pleasantly sweet and mild scallops can be a good choice because their flavor has broad appeal, even among those who aren't big fans of seafood.
Sea scallops, the larger and more widely available variety, are moist, sweet and slightly chewy. Tiny bay scallops are a bit sweeter and more succulent.
Look for scallops with a moist surface and a sweet, fresh smell rather than fishy odor. Since they often are sold pre-packaged in trays or in plastic containers, you may want to get your scallops from the fish counter so you can ask to give them a sniff before they are wrapped.
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When buying sea scallops, try to get those that are labeled "dry," which means they haven't been treated with the preservative sodium tripolyphosphate. They will be considerably more flavorful and tend to brown much better.
Frozen scallops generally are of a good quality and available year-round.
Though scallops are delicious on their own, they do benefit from added flavors. If you are using a liquid marinade, be careful not to let the scallops soak for too long as their texture can quickly degrade. Ten minutes of marinating usually is enough.
A dry rub made with herbs, spices and a bit of oil is one of the best ways to add flavor and keep scallops moist while cooking. With this method you can let the flavors permeate the scallops for quite some time (up to 12 hours) without ruining their texture.
All scallops should be cooked for as short a time as possible to avoid them becoming tough and dried out.
This recipe for herb-rubbed grilled scallops is rich in Mediterranean flavors and can conveniently be prepped in the morning for cooking later in the day.
Serve them with a salad of chopped romaine lettuce and diced tomatoes tossed with a lemon juice-olive oil vinaigrette.