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The Best Way To Prep Scallops Before You Cook Them

Cooked scallops in a dish next to dishes of garlic and salt
Cooked scallops in a dish next to dishes of garlic and salt - Mironov Vladimir/Shutterstock

Scallops are a tenderly sweet bivalve that feel like a treat every time you order them at a restaurant. Although you may think that this seafood should only be reserved for special occasion meals, scallops are surprisingly easy to make at home -- though there are sometimes a few extra steps required to get them ready for cooking. While frozen scallops come prepped and ready, the fresh ones require some additional preparation beforehand.

Most fresh scallops are sold pre-shucked, but if yours aren't, removing the shell is similar to shucking an oyster. With that out of the way, it's time to remove the abductor muscle. The abductor muscle is the tough, crescent-shaped piece of tissue that hangs off the side of the part of the scallop we eat like a clothing tag. Removing the muscle doesn't require any strength of your own – simply pinch it and pull it off. If you forget to remove it, it's not a problem: The muscle isn't poisonous, it's just much chewier than the rest of the scallop.

Once the muscle has been removed, dry your scallops so you can get that delicious golden brown coating that they're known for. This step depends on which kind of scallop -- outside of the two main types, sea scallops and bay scallops -- that you get. While dry scallops don't have artificial additives, wet scallops are plumped up with preservatives, which makes them harder to sear. Dry scallops just need to be patted dry, but wet scallops will taste better after the simple step of brining. To do this, simply soak them in salted water for 10 minutes, then rinse and pat them dry before cooking.

Read more: The 20 Best Olive Oils For Cooking

What Are The Best Ways To Cook Scallops?

Close-up of raw scallops next to ice, herbs, and salt
Close-up of raw scallops next to ice, herbs, and salt - Andrei Iakhniuk/Getty Images

Seared scallops are certainly the most popular version of the bivalves. Heating them in a pan is a quick and easy way to achieve luscious, golden-brown scallops with crisp exteriors and tender insides. After the scallops have been prepped, heat some oil in a pan and season the scallops with simple spices. Salt, pepper, lemon zest, and a few herbs are enough to enhance the seafood's naturally sweet flavor.

Though scallops are often seared, grilling them is a highly underrated method for preparing them. Firing up your grill may seem like a lot of effort for the tiny creatures, but grilling scallops is worth it. They take on a smoky flavor while charring beautifully, yet still maintain their delicate interiors. Once you've prepped and dried the scallops, marinate them in olive oil, lemon juice, brown sugar, minced garlic, and chili flakes for less than an hour before cooking.

If you prefer your scallops to be completely crunchy, deep frying them is certainly the way to get there. Covered in breadcrumbs and submerged in hot oil, the scallops come out absolutely delicious and ready to be dipped in tartar sauce. Stir black pepper, garlic powder, and paprika into a bowl of flour and dredge the scallops inside, followed by a quick dip into beaten eggs and then panko. Then, drop them into 400 degree Fahrenheit oil and fry them for around four minutes, salting them once they've been removed.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.