Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Greater Boston Area >
Nov 23, 2008 12:04 PM

Sea Scallops (not the brief, delicious Nantucket scallops)

Times are tough, but in some Boston restaurants, bland sea scallops and worse, nitrate-infused scallops seem to be creeping onto menus, under the cover of much better scallops.

Nitrates are a huge problem.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I agree it is hard to find good scallops--the consistently best dry-packed sea scallops are from Savenors in my opinion, and its often hit-or-miss in restaurants--but I've never heard of curing them with nitrates or similar salts.

    Do you mean phosphates? Wet-packed scallops are generally preserved in sodium tripolyphosphate.

    See for a little guide to all the weird scallop terms.

    10 Replies
    1. re: rlove

      You can get great dry scallops in a lot of places; I wouldn't go out of my way to get them at Savenor's. Yes, they are high quality, but you can get the same quality at places like WF and Capt. Mardens, and the fish markets in Cambridge....Now, if your'e NEAR Savenor's, that's a different story...No knock on their high quality at all...

      1. re: galleygirl

        I wholly agree the Cambridge fish markets are as good if not better than Savenors. I should have added that to my original post. Thanks for pointing that out!

        But I'll have to disagree about Whole Foods. Sometimes they have decent scallops--like the Nantucket Bays the River St store had last week--but their usual offering is wet packed and of mediocre quality.

        The reason I like Savenors so much (and this applies to the Cambridge fish markets too) is that they consistently carry dry packed scallops. Other places have nice looking scallops, but they are wet, and often not so labeled.

        1. re: rlove

          That's really surprising; I've gotten lots of dry-packed (because I usually eat them raw) at WFM...I will definitely question them more closley in the future.

          I actually got some dry-packed at Stop and Shop during the summer! Tho I wouldn't recommend them, I did get a few good batches, to my surprise. They were labeled as such.

        2. re: galleygirl

          I just bought some sea scallops that I thought were terrific from New Deal. I don't have scallops often but these were very sweet and fresh tasting. These were dry packed

          1. re: ysb

            Hearty second on the dry scallops from New Deal. When they have them they are absolutely divine. It's best to call Carl first: 617-876-8227

        3. re: rlove

          I've had good success with sea scallops at James Hook and the new seafood market on Salem St...Mercato de Mare?

          A little further for me, New Deal or Courthouse are top quality...

          or eliminate the middleman...:)

            1. re: justbeingpolite

              No..I catch a lot of my own fish/lobsters but not scallops. These were on the fish pier.

              1. re: 9lives

                I've seen your tuna shots. I was wondering if scallops could be harvested on an amateur basis. (Other than the 3-10 I've occasionally collected diving on the North Shore)

                1. re: justbeingpolite

                  Other than diving like you do, I don't think there's much "amateur scalloping" for sea scallops. Th equipment needed is costly and I'd guess the licensing/regulation make it prohibitively costly...

                  must be fun to get a handful on a dive.

        4. The preservative may be phosphate, thank you!

          Whatever the technique, preservatives can overwhelm the taste of a sea scallop. Sea scallops were rich and flavorful earlier in the year. I expected the cold weather to improve quality.

          2 Replies
          1. re: chowfamily

            It's not only that it changes the taste. They get waterloggged, so you can't get a quick sear on the outside, if you do choose to cook them...

            1. re: galleygirl

              It's funny---there aren't many things I'd go out of my way to got to Savenor's for, but dry-packed scallops are definitely one. They're always niucely sized and, IMO, have a better flavor than most I've seen around.

              That said, the Beacon Hill WF had some gorgeous ones on Saturday. So I was tempted.