Stonington sea scallops, Harvested from the waters off Stonington, CT are known for their sweet, rich flavor and firm texture. The flavor of the scallops is often described as having a delicate sweetness with a subtle oceanic taste. The texture is generally firm and tender, with a slightly crunchy exterior and a soft, buttery interior. This combination of flavor and texture makes them a popular choice for seafood lovers and chefs alike.
The quality of Stonington sea scallops is also considered to be Premium scallops.. This can be attributed to several factors including:
- The clean waters off the coast of Stonington, CT which can contribute to the taste and texture of the scallops
- The fact that they are hand-harvested which can lead to a more careful selection process, ensuring only the best scallops are harvested
- The fact that they are shucked (removal of the shells) on the boat, which ensures they are fresh and preserves the texture.
These scallops are usually sold as “dry” scallops, meaning they have no preservatives or chemical treatments added to them, which can also enhance their flavor and texture. Stonington Sea scallops are considered to be some of the highest quality scallops in the world.
HOW ARE THEY HARVESTED?
The evolution of harvesting methods for scallops, including those harvested off the coast of Stonington, Connecticut, has occurred over time due to advances in technology, changes in regulations, and shifts in consumer demand.
Traditionally, scallops were harvested using hand-tonging, where divers would use a large set of tongs to pick the scallops off the ocean floor by hand. This method is considered to be more selective and can minimize the environmental impact, but it’s also less efficient and less productive, so it was limited to small operations.
Later, dredging became the most common method of harvesting scallops, and it’s still widely used today. Dredging is done by dragging a large piece of equipment known as a dredge, along the ocean floor. The dredge has a series of chains or teeth that dig into the sand and scoop up the scallops as well as other organisms that live on the ocean floor. Dredging is more efficient and allows for the harvest of larger quantities of scallops in a shorter period of time, but it can have a greater environmental impact.
As technology and methods have improved over time, so has the ability to harvest scallops in a more sustainable and selective way. Some newer methods such as scuba diving, Benthic Protected Areas, and more sustainable dredging gears are being implemented in some areas, to reduce the environmental impact of scallop harvesting.
Regulations and laws also play an important role in the evolution of harvesting methods, these laws change over time, to balance the needs of the fishing industry with the sustainability of the marine environment.
HOW ARE STONINGTON SCALLOPS PROCESSED?
Processing scallops for market typically involves several steps, including sorting and cleaning, shucking, grading and packaging, and ice preservation. Here is a step-by-step overview of the process
- Sorting and cleaning: Once the scallops are brought back to the boat or shore, they are sorted and cleaned. Any debris or organisms that were caught along with the scallops are removed.
- Shucking: Next, the scallops are shucked, meaning that the muscle that connects the two shells is removed. This is usually done by hand using a shucking knife.
- Grading and inspection: The adductor muscle, which is the scallop meat, is then separated from the rest of the body. The meat is then washed and inspected for quality.
- Grading: After the cleaning process, the meat is then graded, depending on the size, color, and shape. Some of the scallops might be rejected due to their quality.
- Packaging and Ice Preservation: Finally, the cleaned and graded scallops are packaged and iced, which helps to preserve them and keep them fresh for transport back to the Docks in Stonington, CT.
- Some operators also use Scallop “flash freezing” aboard their boats which a method of preserving scallops by rapidly freezing them at extremely low temperatures while they are still out at sea. This method is used by some scallop fishing boats to maintain the quality, texture, and flavor of the scallops right after they are harvested. The Scallops are individually frozen and packaged.
HOW ARE SEA SCALLOPS SIZED?
Sea scallops are typically sized by measuring the diameter of the adductor muscle, which is the meat of the scallop. The diameter of the adductor muscle is measured in inches or millimeters, depending on the country or the industry standards. The size is measured by the industry standard measure of the “U10” or “20/30”, which means the amount of scallops per pound that are under a specific size. “U10” means Under 10, and means that there are less than 10 scallops per pound that are under this size. “20/30” means 20 to 30 scallops per pound that are in this size.
The standards can vary depending on the region and the type of scallops being harvested. In the United States, for example, sea scallops are usually graded by the U.S. Department of Commerce and are classified into several size categories: “Extra-Large”, “Large”, “Medium”, and “Small”.
It’s worth noting that the grading criteria might vary depending on the market conditions, regulation and industry standards. Some grading also depends on the visual inspection, where the size, color and shape of the scallop is considered for overall quality.
HOW ARE SEA SCALLOPS COOKED?
Sea scallops are a versatile seafood that can be prepared in many ways, some of the most popular methods include sautéing, pan-frying, broiling, grilling, and even raw preparations such as carpaccio and sushi.
One of the simplest and most popular ways to cook sea scallops is by sautéing them. To sauté scallops, they are first dried off with a paper towel, seasoned with salt and pepper. Next, they are placed in a hot skillet with butter or oil, and cooked for about 2-3 minutes per side or until golden brown. This technique is great for preserving the sweet and delicate flavor of the scallops, and also helps to caramelize the surface, giving them a nice crust.
Pan-frying is similar to sautéing, but instead of using a non-stick skillet, a regular skillet is used and the heat is higher. This technique creates a nice crust on the scallops while keeping them tender inside.
Broiling and grilling are methods that adds a smoky flavor and nice char to the scallops. The scallops are seasoned, then placed on a broiler pan or directly on the grill grates, and cooked for 2-3 minutes per side.
Raw preparations such as carpaccio and sushi are gaining popularity in recent years, the scallops should be very fresh, cleaned, and shucked. They are thinly sliced and served raw, with a variety of condiments such as lemon, olive oil, or soy sauce.
It’s worth noting that sea scallops cook quickly and they can easily be overcooked, resulting in a rubbery texture. The best way to check if they are cooked is by slicing one open, if it’s translucent inside then is cooked, if it’s still opaque inside means it needs more time.
If you love seafood, Stonington sea scallops are a great option to consider, as they are high in protein, low in calories, and are full of healthy antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that make them one of the most nutritious and healthy seafood options out there.