What are Scallops?

Jane Harmon

Scallops are edible bivalves similar to oysters and clams. They are found both in bay waters and in the sea. In terms of texture they are somewhat similar to white fish and have a fairly sweet flavor that is ideal for many different dishes. Some people may be allergic to scallops, however, so anyone with previous allergies to mollusks or shellfish may want to avoid eating them.

Cooked scallops.
Cooked scallops.

Flavor and Use

All of the scallop muscle is edible, and European eaters often enjoy them in their entirety like oysters. In the US, however, only the shell muscle is eaten and many Americans view these white cylinders of flesh simply as "scallops." The flavor is sweet and delicate, and is best served with a mild sauce of cream, cheese, or butter that does not overpower the subtle flavor of the scallop itself. They are used in many recipes similar to shrimp or clams in foods such as pasta dishes and appetizers.

Scallops in their shells.
Scallops in their shells.

Nutritional Value

Scallops are very low in fat and fairly low in calories; a single scallop typically has only about 30 to 35 calories. They are a source of unsaturated fat with omega-3 fatty acids, which are recommended for a healthy diet and provide a decent source of vitamin B12 and calcium. A single serving also includes a good amount of magnesium, iron, and zinc, which can be good for some people but may be a problem for individuals with certain illnesses or on some types of medication. Anyone with major dietary or health concerns should consult a healthcare professional with questions about seafood.

Scallops can be combined with pasta to make a variety of tasty dishes.
Scallops can be combined with pasta to make a variety of tasty dishes.

Allergy Concerns

As a mollusk, scallops can cause allergic reactions in some people. Anyone with an allergy to clams, oysters, or similar foods should avoid them or try only a very small piece. An allergy to shellfish, such as lobsters or shrimp, does not necessarily indicate a mollusk allergy, though caution should be used by anyone with seafood allergies when trying something new. Replacements, such as white fish, can be used for many dishes, but can bother eaters with fish allergies.

Finding and Harvesting

Scallops are both fished and "farmed" or cultivated in water for harvest. They do not attach themselves to a permanent anchorage, but move themselves through the water by opening and closing their shells. As a result, the muscle that controls the "hinge" of the shell is much larger than that of oysters or clams. Since they cannot survive out of water, they are shucked from their shells on board fishing boats.

Common Varieties

The bay scallop is much smaller than the sea scallop, and the edible muscle is usually about one half-inch (about a centimeter) or smaller in diameter. A sea scallop's muscle can be as large as two inches (about 5 centimeters) in diameter. Sea scallops are sometimes cut into smaller shapes to pass as bay varieties and some companies produce "faux" versions made from shark or sting ray.

Scallops are often used in addition to shrimp and other seafoods in ethnic dishes.
Scallops are often used in addition to shrimp and other seafoods in ethnic dishes.

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Discussion Comments


What class of animal do scallops come from?


Where would I find common scallops?


If I had an allergic reaction to bay scallops, would I have one to sea scallops as well?


scallops are really good fried! there's your health benefit! scallops are from stingray fish, not shellfish.


Why do scallops smell so bad when cooked? I used a first class caterer for a party and they lightly fried scallops in my kitchen as one of the appetizers. The scallops were very fresh but a funky fishy smell is still hanging on and won't go away. I've tried air freshener, etc. Is there some chemical in scallops that does this? I will appreciate any advice regarding this.


dear,fay, or anon352: it depends. some people say they are allergic to shell, crab, and shrimp, but can still eat scallops. i suggest you try a real tiny piece of scallop and eat it, but if you have a bad allergic reaction, you might not want to try this. you might be able to eat scallops. there are different vitamins in scallops than in other seafood. do you know what you are allergic to that is in the seafood?


Do scallops contain iodine?


Are scallops better for you broiled verses deep fried? I am allergic to shellfish also, but seem to be able to eat just a few scallops. And is it true some scallops can be artificially made from stingray?


Scallops are actually a very good source of a very important nutrient for cardiovascular health: vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is needed by the body to convert homocysteine, a chemical that can directly damage blood vessel walls, into other benign chemicals.

Four ounces of scallops contains 33.3 percent of the daily value for vitamin B12.

In addition to their B12, scallops are a very good source of omega-3 fatty acids and a good source of magnesium and potassium, three other nutrients that provide significant benefits for the cardiovascular system.


i think scallops are disgusting.


It varies depending on the person and their level of allergy.

I am allergic to lobster and shrimp with moderate reaction, but when I eat crab I might feel slightly swollen if I have dry lips, or I will just have no reaction at all.

I am able to eat scallops with the same reaction as I have with crab. If I have dry lips, I might have a very, very slight swollen feeling on my lip (nobody would ever be able to tell, except me). So, if you have a moderate or severe reaction to shellfish, I'd be cautious on taking a chance with scallops. FYI: My allergy is very mild.


I also am allergic to shellfish, but I can eat scallops without any problems.


I am allergic to shrimp, crabs but am able to eat scallops. Why is that?


Could you please confirm that there are 180,000 species of scallops to be found?


ANSWER to this question:

"are there any particular health benefits to eating scallops? personally, i think they're delicious in fettuccine alfredo! yum!!!"

If there any benefits..you just tossed them out the window with the Alfredo...


I am allergic to crustaceans but I can eat mollusks. Some people are allergic to both.


how are you guys able to fish with the green peace they might start to think that scallops are going to be extinct.


That is not true that you can eat scallops because they are mollusks and not shellfish, if you are allergic to shellfish. I am allergic to shellfish, but I cannot eat mollusks either. I wouldn't take the chance if I were you...


Scallops are mollusks, not shellfish. They can be eaten by people allergic to shellfish.


In response to questions, these are bivalve shellfish, class bivalvia - they are related to oysters. If you are allergic to shellfish then you shouldn't eat them.


are there any particular health benefits to eating scallops? personally, i think they're delicious in fettuccine alfredo! yum!!!


What would be the class of this animal?


I am allergic to shell fish- shrimp, crab, lobster etc.

Would I be allergic to scallops?


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