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Sep 2, 2010 05:24 PM

Popcorn Scallops

DH and I recently ate at a local restaurant at the beach and one of the appetizers was "popcorn scallops". They were very tiny, bite sized, juicy and with a nice brown, crispy breadcrumb coating. They were about the size of a thumbnail. My questions are:

Has anyone made these? If so, do you have a recipe you can share?

Since they were so small, and golden brown, would they have been frozen to be deep fried so they retain their melt-in-your mouth texture instead of being rubbery?

Would love to hear if someone can give some more info. I'd take them over popcorn shrimp any day!

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  1. They wouldn't necessarily have to be frozen; it only takes a few minutes to deep fry fresh regular scallops much less tiny scallops...these would have had to be either bay scallops or sea scallops cut small before breading..

    4 Replies
    1. re: Cherylptw

      My guess is that they were bay scallops which are cheaper than sea and require less labor than cutting bigger sea scallops. I often cook bay scallops by just making sure they are really dry and coating lightly with Wondra and then pan saute in a little oil and butter.

      1. re: scubadoo97

        Real wild bay scallops from the prime waters of the Peconic Bay and Nantucket are the prize of scallops, and usually retail during the winter season for over twice the prize of deep sea scallops.

        These sound like calico scallops, often likened to the eraser on pencils....

        1. re: Karl S

          If you could find bay scallops around here for less than $20/lb, you are very lucky indeed. I would never put breading on those, it would be a sin.

          1. re: coll

            I agree with you about normally breading scallops! That would be a sin! We just got some and will be putting a nice little sear on those babies!

    2. Could have been Calico scallops. We used to get them in Florida restaurants back in the 80's. Cheaper and not nearly as tasty as bay scallops.

      1 Reply
      1. re: grampart

        st. Joe Bay scallops/Calico scallops Florida

      2. The big secret to all the commercial popcorn breaded product is lots of salt, just like real popcorn. Otherwise they just taste like breaded anything. I wondering with the popcorn theme, maybe quickly marinade in something buttery before breading? Usually popcorn style is battered though.

        Anything fried usually cooks better from a frozen state. Usually I bread, then freeze for at least 15 or 20 minutes before frying, it holds together much better than fresh.

        18 Replies
        1. re: coll

          Thanks, all. These were definitely crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. I guess I will just have to experiment! It seems that if they are that small, and then deep frying to a golden brown, they would have to be frozen - otherwise they would be rubber.

          Maybe I can call the restaurant and just ask what type of scallop they used. Doh!

          1. re: boyzoma

            60/80 count frozen scallops are very popular in the restaurant world, there are brands that are pretty decent for frozen.

            1. re: boyzoma

              I am not sure if they would want to tell you that it is "X" brand, frozen, mass produced, STP laden product that they buy from Sysco.

              1. re: chefj

                They may not tell you either way, but I've only heard of popcorn chicken and popcorn shrimp as mass produced, popcorn scallop is an interesting twist and most likely made by them. Until some company reads this and starts making it. However I could be totally wrong and will admit it in advance.

                  1. re: coll

                    Singleton Popcorn Scallops are already on the market.

                    1. re: chefj

                      Good to know, and I shouldn't be surprised. That sounds like a nice concept.

                      1. re: chefj

                        I looked for Singleton Popcorn Scallops and found Singleton's web site, but I didn't see any scallops!

                          1. re: chefj

                            No I found this quickly
                            They apparently make it breaded and battered.
                            I never heard of Singletons but maybe it's more of a Southern company? They sound big enough to me.

                            1. re: coll

                              coll - I saw that, but that just shows popcorn shrimp, not popcorn scallops. Thanks.

                              1. re: boyzoma

                                Duh, here it is, wrong page:
                                Still never heard of this company, or popcorn scallops til now, but that's just me!

                                1. re: coll

                                  That's exactly what they looked like! Unfortunately they are in Florida and I am in Oregon!

                                  1. re: boyzoma

                                    This looks like a big manufacturer, I've never seen this brand in the Northeast but they could very well sell on the West Coast. Especially if Sysco is involved, which brings us back to the original comment by chefj. Luckily Sysco isn't as big where I am as in the rest of the country, most suppliers are local.

                                    1. re: coll

                                      Sysco is big here. Maybe I can find out! Hadn't thought of that. Thanks! I didn't pick up on the Sysco connection by chefj. My bad!!!

                                      1. re: boyzoma

                                        I don't know about Sysco since they aren't physically located here yet, but all our local dealers let you walk in and buy anything they carry, for a slightly higher price. Sysco usually puts their own name on everything, so just ask about popcorn scallops in general, these are probably the only ones out there right now.

                1. re: coll

                  coll, deep frying from frozen? no oil splatter issues?

                  1. re: alkapal

                    No. But I do have a covered deep fryer, so I guess that helps. If I saw ice crystals from something that was deep frozen, I'd take precautions, but I guess I have a dry freezer, so not usually a problem.

                    Restaurants cook the majority of their fried food from frozen, it's actually considered the better way, keeps the breading from falling off and/or cooking too much before the inside is done. That's why I purposely freeze it a little beforehand if I have time.

                2. In Los Angeles we have a place called Fisherman's Outlet and they have fried bay scallops that sound like what you're describing.
                  They fry the bay scallops in cracker meal not bread crumbs.

                  You might want to look for cracker meal or cracker crumbs:

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: monku

                    Calico scallops are tiny. After cooking, they are the size of a pencil eraser. Real bay scallops are now farm raised in Peru and China. They are frozen and sold pretty cheaply. They are small, but not nearly as small as calico's, so they would be better suited for this type of preparation.

                    1. re: EricMM

                      These were bigger than a Calico then, but smaller than a bay. Well, I've sent an e-mail to the restaurant, and we'll see if they even reply! I'll update if I get anything back from them.

                      1. re: boyzoma

                        What you are describing sounds like a farmed bay scallop. They are usually smaller than the largest wild bay scallops, on a par with the smaller wild ones. Since they are farmed, they are all uniform in size, and always larger than calicos.