Scallops...smells like??

Joined Jun 19, 2001
I just bought some scallops to stir fry with some Chinese brocoli. My question is how are the scallop supposed to smell like. Do they have a sweet odor and are they suppose to look like pearly white with maybe a slight hint of pinkness. They resemble fresh lychees to me.

I've bought some cryoc vac High Liner scallops in the past and found those to not have smell at all and thought they tasted very good. :confused: The "fresh" scallops I buy always seem to have this sweet odor, is that normal? Or are my "fresh" scallops actually spoiled. thanks.

Joined May 26, 2001
In general, fresh seafood should smell ... like nothing. That is, not fishy, not sharp, not like anything except maybe the sea (if you know what that is). There should not be a chemical smell, even faint -- although some things, like scallops, are treated with chemicals -- either no smell, or sea smell. If fish smells "fishy," it's already old. Freshness in seafood is more an absence of smell. In whole fin fish, there are many other ways to tell freshness: brightness of eyes, color of gills (Red, not brown), elasticity of flesh, adherence of scales -- but it is MUCH more difficult in other seafood.

If you are buying for a restaurant, you have to be very careful with your purveyor: make sure they know exactly what you want, and send anything back that does not conform. For home buying, search until you find the best-tasting, least-smelling seafood you can get.
Joined Feb 2, 2002
Hi Rhonda:

Sweet odor is great for scallops........unless some idiot added sugar to them.....just joking!!!

You should be able to smell fish, and seafood.......but, if it is "fishy", then pass on it.....

Smells vary with each me some smell like cucumbers, others like Tilefish---gin, or a faint smell of juniper berries, and others like the smell of the least the smell of the ocean on a clean beach. When buying whole fish.....the gills should be bright red (not gunky), and smell like cucumbers.

Scallops should have a faint sweet smell to them.....

How you buy them does matter..... It is best to buy "Dry Scallops" whenever possible......these are fresh scallops that do not have chemicals, and salt added to them like Suzanne warned you about. They are wet....tend to have an off flavor, and will "weep", when cooked.

I like Sea Scallops, and Bay Scallops off Cape Cod. The Calico Scallops from florida are like eating "Rubber bands".

Good luck with your seafood,

Chef Nosko
Boston, MA
Joined Jan 23, 2002
Chef Nosko is correct - you should always look for "dry" scallops instead of those sitting in a bowl of white liquid. This is a preservative that is added either buy the fishmonger or retailer to extend shelf life and it can be difficult to find scallops not in this liquid. If you're sauteing the scallops and want a nice crisp sear, don't crowd your pan with too many at once. They put off a lot of water.
Joined Jun 19, 2001
Thanks for your replys, but every grocery store I've been to, the scallops sit in that "preservative" you speak of. I did not know that, wowee, I learn something new everytime I post here :bounce: I might stick to the vac pack kind from now on.

I noticed while i was searing them that they do give off a lot of water. I follow the general guideline of I think it was 3 mins per side. I find that even though I think I'm overcooking my scallops, they always seem to come out on the "raw" side. :confused:
practice, practice I guess.
Joined Jan 23, 2002

I cook scallops very often, I love them. To keep them from getting soggy I use either a non-stick or stainless saute pan (I prefer the stainless) and add a little olive oil and a little butter. If you want to rinse them it's okay but do it quickly, don't let them soak in water, they're like little sponges. Pat them dry with paper towel. I sprinkle a little sea-salt and pepper and place, uncrowded in the hot pan. When you see the nice brown sear turn them over. You can tell when the scallop is cooked by pressing on it: if it feels soft and spongy it's not ready, but if it feels firm (not hard) it's done. I love them on a bed of greens with a reduced balsamic vinegar, toasted pine nuts and shaved parm-reggiano. :lips:
Joined Apr 19, 2001
Rhonda, why don't you start 'lobbying' your seafood buyers at your supermarket? Enlist the help of all your friends, and just get everyone to ask for 'day boat scallops' or 'diver' scallops or 'dry scallops' at the fish market! Be sure to tell the seafood guy that they're 'all the rage' right now. We've been successful on that front in getting the locals to regularly stock more 'gourmet' veggies, and the scallops, too.


Joined Apr 4, 2000
Like they say in The Elements Of Taste, fish and shellfish should smell oceanic, not fishy...
Joined Jul 18, 2000
pinky coloured scallops, you mean like fairly pink octopus.

The only thing close to pink on scallops should be the roe. If the meat itself is going pink, then the only thing it really would be good for is a decent burial.

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