Sea Scallop Facts

sea_scallopAt MdM we carry dry u-10 sea scallops and Nantucket Bay scallops when they’re in season.  Below are some interesting facts about scallops.
Bay Scallop or Sea Scallop?

In the market, bay scallops are smaller scallops and sea scallops are large scallops. According to
FDA, there are 29 scallop species; one sea scallop, one bay scallop, and the rest are scallops.

Bay Scallops

The true bay scallop (Argopecten irradians) is a very sweet small size scallop that gets as large as
60-80ct in size (60-80 per lb). Wild bay scallops are found from Maine to Texas, generally in
shallow salt water grassy areas. Commercial harvest seasons are very short, in limited areas. The
season lasts a month or two during the winter and the sweet delicacy sells for $20.00lb or more.
What is sold in most retailers and restaurants as bay scallops is the same bay scallop specie. It is
farmed raised in China or Japan. The farmed scallops do not taste the same, but some are very tasty,
especially the dry, no water added bay scallops from Japan. Other species of small scallops may be
sold as “bay scallops”, though technically they are scallops.

Sea Scallops

Sea Scallops (Placopecten magellanicus) are caught off the North Atlantic coast from Atlantic
Canada to North Carolina. The North Atlantic sea scallop is harvested in medium to deep waters on
the continental shelf from 20 to 300 ft deep. The large sea scallop meats average 20-30ct per lb,
with some sea scallops as large as 8-10ct per lb.

Harvest Method

Sea scallops are harvested by boats with scallop dredges. The boats are usually 40ft to 70ft long or
more. The boats drag a heavy metal ring mesh net behind the boat and across the ocean bottom.
The metal rings that make up the mesh are a 3.5 inches or larger to allow juvenile scallops to pass
through and only catch the adult full size scallops. Some scallops are hand caught by scuba divers.

In the US fleet, the scallops are shucked on board the boat. The shell and the entrails are discarded
and become food for other ocean species. Only the adductor muscle is kept. The adductor muscle is
what the mollusk uses to open and close its shell. That is the pearly white meat we know as a
What is a scallop?

Scallops are unique and different than other mollusks (clams, oysters, mussels) and fish. The
adductor mussel in a scallop is very large. This is because the scallop is a free swimmer. The
adductor mussel quickly opens and closes the shell, expelling water, allowing the scallop to “swim”.
Clams generally bury in the mud or sand, oysters will attach to rocks, other oysters or any hard
surface. Mussels develop “beards” and attach to hard surfaces or each other. Scallops are filter
feeders like other mollusks. They eat plankton, algae, and other fine marine life.

Scallop or Shark Meat?

An old wives tale is that some scallops in the marketplace are really meat from a shark or skate that
has been punched out by some type of cutting machine. This is not true. The color and texture of
the meat from a shark or skate is much different than the scallop meat. The scallop adductor muscle
has a unique structure and texture. The muscle fibers are long, layered and flow in one direction.
The rumor may have come from looking at calico scallop meats that can grow and be harvested in
very uniform sizes.

Water Added Scallops

Another difference between fish tissue and the scallop muscle is the scallop’s ability to naturally
absorb water. A scallop meat that is soaked in water for a period of time will absorb some of that
water. Soaked long enough, the scallop can absorb 10% of its weight in water or more.

When a scallop is soaked for a period of time in a solution of water and Sodium Tripoly Phosphate
(STP) and water, scallops can absorb 25% of their weight in water or more. Industry terms for such
scallops are “soaked”, “wet” or “processed” scallops. For labeling purposes, FDA requires the term
water added scallops. STP is an FDA approved Generally Regarded As Safe (GRAS) food additive.
It is primarily used to retain natural moisture in frozen scallops.

Sea Scallops are a Sustainable Fishery

The U.S. / Canadian Sea Scallop fishery is considered a fisheries management success story. The
biomass and landings of sea scallops has increased dramatically in the last 15 years. Significant
study and work took place in the late 20th century to understand sea scallop life cycle, habitat, and
the fishery. Some of the fisheries management measures include:

. Larger ring sizes on the scallop dredge nets to allow juvenile scallops to pass through.
. Set # of days set days at sea for scallop boats.
. Limit crew sizes to 7 or less on scallop fishing vessels.
. Closing areas of the ocean to scallop fishing, then allowing managed openings in these areas.

Closed area management has been very effective. Not only has the plan helped the sea scallop
biomass to increase, it helps reduce environmental impact of scallop fishing and improves the
quality of the scallops. The boats spend less time fishing the bottom, and potentially upsetting
habitat. The boats catch more scallops with less “bottom time”, which uses less fuel. The scallops
caught are larger. A boat can complete a trip faster and get back to shore quicker with fresher
scallops. The boats’ crews make more money because the scallops are fresher, larger, and caught in
less time, using less fuel. This has helped keep sea scallop prices lower too. A real win, win, win
for fishermen, environment, and customer.

Flounder & Sole Fish Facts


Flounder and sole are in the flatfish family.  Flatfish are white meat fish prized for a very mild delicate flavor.



The shape of ocean caught fish are usually set into two groups, round fish and flatfish.  Round fish are what we normally think of as fish, with one eye on each side of the head and a generally aerodynamic bullet shape.  Flatfish have both eyes on the same side of the head and lay flat on the ocean bottom looking up.


Common commercially harvested flatfish species include:


EAST COAST: Yellowtail flounder, Fluke flounder, Blackback flounder, Dab flounder, Grey sole and Atlantic Halibut. (Fluke flounder is common in the Gulf of Mexico also)


WEST COAST:  Petrale sole, Dover sole, Flathead sole, Starry flounder, and Pacific Halibut.



Flatfish rest on the ocean floor. Both eyes look upward to find prey and to see predators.  The top side of most flatfish is dark in color which helps in camouflaging itself from others.  The bottom side of most flatfish is white.


Flounder can be found in shallow water such as fluke flounder in the saltwater shallows of the Texas coast.  Flounder can be found in deep water such as blackback flounder in 100ft to 300ft of water off the Georges Banks off the New England coast.


Most flatfish eat crustaceans and shellfish when they are young, such as shrimp, clams, scallops sand dollars, etc.  Older flatfish will eat live fish in addition to various shellfish and crustacea. 



Most commercially harvested flatfish are caught by trawlers that use nets to trawl on or near the bottom.  Some other catch techniques include hook and line, gigging, and long line. 



Whole flounder and sole that are harvested usually run from 1lb to 5lbs. Halibut are in the flatfish family, but are usually 10lbs to 80lbs. Halibut in excess of 200lbs are not uncommon.  


Most flounder have a very light or white meat color.  By the nature of the fish, the fillets are very thin.  The top/dark side of most flatfish is slightly thicker than the bottom/white side. The meat on the top side can be darker than the meat of the white side such is the case with blackback flounder.   Flounder and sole cook to a nice pearly white or creamy white color and are very mild in flavor.


There are many species of flatfish that can all be sold legally as flounder, according to FDA, as they are all part of the flounder family.  That is why flounder may look slightly different from time to time.  The flavor and nutritional value are very similar.



Since most flatfish are very thin, they will cook quickly.  A good method is to pan fry or pan sauté.  The general rule for cooking fish is 10 minutes per inch of thickness.  Most flounder and sole fillets are only ½ inch thick. To sauté a flounder fillet takes only 2 to three minutes per side.  To bake a flounder fillet takes 5 minutes at 350 degrees. When the fish just starts to flake at the thick end when tested with a fork, it is done.


Use mild seasonings such as better, lemon, and dill weed, as flounder and sole are very mild. Or try olive oil, salt and pepper.


Halibut are great for grilling or broiling.  Follow the 10 minute per inch of thickness cooking rule.




Salmon Fish Facts


There are 5 Pacific Salmon and 1 Atlantic salmon. 


Each salmon has its own color, flavor and characteristics. Some salmon are known by different names, which are noted below.  The big difference between salmon is the fat content of the flesh.  The more fat the flesh has, the more flavor the more flavor, and the more beneficial Omega-3 fatty acid. 




King Salmon (Chinook salmon).  Kings salmon are the largest salmon, weighing 15 to 30lbs, sometimes more.  King salmon have a very high fat content.  Deep orange color. Has a rich pronounced salmon flavor.  Stays moist when cooked.


Coho Salmon (Silver Salmon)

Coho is known as silver salmon for its bright silver skin. These fish run 3-6lb on average, but many will be larger.  Coho have a rich salmon color that is redder than King, but not nearly as bright as deep or bright red as sockeye.salmon. 


Sockeye Salmon (Red Salmon)

Sockeye salmon run 3 to 6 lbs whole usually.  The fillets average 1 to 3 lbs.  The color is a very attractive deep red. Thae fat content is moderate, producing a rich salmon flavor.  Sockeye can become dry if overcooked.  


Keta Salmon (Chum salmon)

Keta salmon average 4-6lb.  The meat color will vary from a pale pink to a deep orange /red.  The fat content is lower than King, silver an d sockeye salmon.  The flavor is less pronounced and the fillet can be dry compared to other salmon. 


Pink Salmon (Humpback Salmon)

Pink salmon are small fish between 1-3lb whole.  The fish have a light pink flesh color.  The fat content is low.  The name humpback comes from their characteristic hump oin their back which develops as they run the river to spawn.  Pink salmon are usually sold whole frozen or used for canned pink salmon.




Atlantic salmon are farm raised.  There are a few runs of wild Atlantic salmon in Maine and Atlantic Canada, but these are not commercially fished.  Atlantic salmon have a rich orange red color.  The color in Atlantic salmon comes from canthaxathan in their feed.  In the wild, salmon get canthaxathan from shrimp they feed on.  When a salmon is listed as color added, it is from the feed, not from a dye as the sign may lead some to believe.  Atlantic salmon are high in fat content producing a rich buttery flavor that stay moist when cooked. 

Canadian Cooking Method

First publicized by the Canadian Department of Marine Fisheries, this method is tried and true.  We found this easy step by step on   The site has lots of great seafood cooking tips, recipes and how-to videos.

This technique works with the following cooking methods: broiling, grilling, poaching, steaming, sautéing, microwaving, en papillotte, planking, and baking (the oven should be between 400 and 450 degrees Fahrenheit).

Measure your portion of fish at its thickest part, and calculate 10 minutes of cooking time for each inch of fish. Don’t forget to add or subtract fractions of inches—no rounding up or down.

Fish will continue to cook after removed from heat, so visually checking your portion of fish and taking it out when it “looks” done will leave you with an overcooked piece of fish.

If your piece of fish is more than ½ inch thick, you will need to divide the cooking time in half, and turn the fish halfway through cooking.

Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acids

American Heart Association Recommendation

Omega-3 fatty acids benefit the heart of healthy people, and those at high risk of — or who have — cardiovascular disease.

We recommend eating fish (particularly fatty fish) at least two times a week.  Fish is a good source of protein and doesn’t have the high saturated fat that fatty meat products do.  Fatty fish like mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, albacore tuna and salmon are high in two kinds of omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

To learn about omega-3 levels for different types of fish — as well as mercury levels, which can be a concern — see our Encyclopedia entry on Fish, Levels of Mercury and Omega-3 Fatty Acids.

We also recommend eating tofu and other forms of soybeans, canola, walnut and flaxseed, and their oils. These contain alpha-linolenic acid (LNA),  which can become omega-3 fatty acid in the body. The extent of this modification is modest and controversial, however. More studies are needed to show a cause-and-effect relationship between alpha-linolenic acid and heart disease.


Fish Facts for Healthy Nutrition

Fish is brain and heart food – but trying to balance its health – boosting benefits with concerns about contaminant level can leave you floundering! Sad and true, contaminants are in most foods, but don’t give up on fish, because fish are still an excellent health choice.

Eat Fish, Be Smart, Choose Wisely


The American Heart Association recommends eating fish twice a week. Why? Because fish are a great source of protein, vitamins, and nutrients. Fish are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, which provide protection from heart disease and are great brain food for you, your children and if you are pregnant, for your unborn child. It is important to continue to eat fish to gain the healthy heart and brain benefits. The key is to make smart choices and choose fish that are low in mercury, Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs), and other contaminants.

Fish Facts

monkfish-0023Eat fish, be a star….

Fish Facts is where you will find us either rambling about fish, the north end or floundering! Either way you will find interesting bites here so check back often.