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When properly and lovingly prepared, scallops might just be one of the most delicious, buttery-tasting seafoods on the planet. I love them for a million reasons, starting, of course with their taste. But you have to be careful. Scallops are really easy to overcook. An extra couple of minutes of cooking can almost instantly transform the “melt-in-your-mouth” experience into something akin to chewing on rubber bands, something I discovered myself the first time I made them.
Scallops are a nutritional gift from the sea. They’re high in “clean” protein as long as you get them from clean waters. (Check out the reliably high-quality Vital Choice, where I personally get my seafood shipped to me in dry ice. Their scallops are particularly awesome.) A mere 3 ounces of scallops (or what I consider half a portion) provides anywhere from 10–17 grams of protein (depending on where the scallops come from), for around 100 calories.
And it’s not just protein. While no one is claiming that scallops are an omega-3 powerhouse, they do contain a bit of this important fat as well as small amounts of incredibly important nutrients like B12 (for nerve transmission, mood, and energy), and the minerals zinc and selenium (both critically important for your immune system).
The Raw and the Cooked
Can you eat scallops raw? According to the blog Food52, the answer is an emphatic “yes.” “Raw scallops are not just edible,” they write, “they’re incredible.” However, I’d add two notes of caution to that rousing endorsement.
First, remember the allergy factor. Shellfish are a relatively common allergen affecting anywhere from 0.5–2.5 percent of people (children and adults), with some studies suggesting even higher percentages. Technically, scallops are mollusks, not crustaceans (like shrimp), but that doesn’t mean that scallops automatically get a green light. Though scallops are a little less likely to trigger a shellfish allergy than shrimp, that doesn’t help you if you’re the one who gets triggered! Check with your health practitioner before eating scallops if you have a known shellfish allergy.
Second, there’s the “raw” factor. It’s always important to know where your seafood comes from, but it’s even more important if it’s raw. In general, it’s a good idea for pregnant people, older folks, and anyone who is immunocompromised to just avoid raw fish.
That said, for healthy people who aren’t allergic to shellfish, scallops are one of the delights of the sea from both a nutritional and a culinary point of view. If that’s not enough to sell you on scallops, just try this fantastic—and wonderfully nutritious—recipe!