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May 7, 2014 03:52 PM


Several times recently I've ordered fried and casserole seafood dishes which include scallops. The 'scallops' look like but miss the texture and taste of our local sea scallops. Not bad but not what would expect.
Last night at an unnamed ( not Legal) place the seafood casserole was mainly scallops with a little shrimp, white fish and lobster thrown in. I commented on the number of scallops because they are pretty expensive. Next thing I knew we had a different waiter for the rest of the evening. Guess he was afraid I'd complain. I didn't out of consideration for my dining companions.
So, what's up? Are the scallops wet, imported from someplace or are they even scallops?
Has anyone else run into the same issue?

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  1. In a seafood casserole, a restaurant can get away with wet or frozen scallops...though pace urban legend I doubt they are simply discs punched from another form of fish or seafood.

    1. i am a big fan of our local Nantucket scallops. They are the bet scallops I have ever eaten but are seasonal.

      Other scallops are not quite so tasty.

      If you think that they had bad scallops, name names.

      You have to be careful about seafood restaurants. A good steak requires a lot less care than good seafood.

      1. The scallops in a seafood casserole are most likely not fresh, dry scallops. I picked up some for dinner last night at New Deal and they run over a dollar each- ouch! (They are best lightly seared, and in my opinion would be a waste in a heavily sauced dish or chowder.) Maybe the scallops in your dish were previously frozen?

          1. am not sure that you have reasonable expectations about what goes into a "seafood" casserole. a heavy sauce and breadcrumbs will hide a multitude of sins.

            however, in this case, where you got loads, am guessing they were on the downhill side of fresh, as well as wet/frozen.

            at a brookline sushi place that no longer exists, i definitely got punched fish instead of scallops. i did complain. the texture wasn't even close. only the color, lol.

            18 Replies
              1. re: StriperGuy

                A neighbor of mine growing up was a commercial fisherman. He went to a well regarded New Bedford seafood restaurant, and was served punched skate. He asked to see the chef. The chef came out, he pulled apart a scallop, which had horizontal flesh, instead of vertical. He looked at the chef, and said, "I'm a fisherman. Need I say more?" The chef grabbed his plate and asked him what else he wanted, on the house. He went with lobster.

                1. re: kimfair1

                  I thought you're going to say he served up a dish of punched chef ha ha.

                  1. re: kimfair1

                    I think you have it backwards. Scallop have a vertical grain like this one:

                    1. re: zackly

                      Right - kimfair1's point was that the "scallop" that the diner pulled apart had a horizontal grain, i.e., it wasn't a scallop.

                      1. re: Allstonian

                        Yes, I felt it my duty to correct the post because if I didn't some Chowhounders might complain about the real thing.I don't doubt its happened but I've never seen a punched scallop in all my years of buying them for home and food service & importing them form Japan. Nor have I ever heard from any of my many friends in the industry of them encountering any "skate wing scallops". If it was done @ some point in history it's not done now in the age of Google Images.

                        1. re: zackly

                          Skate wing scallops are typically made AT the dining establishment, not sold that way wholesale, or retail.

                          I guarantee you that many of the places selling fried scallops, where the breading hides a lot, are still using skate wing.

                          Very hard to tell a heavily breaded, then deep fried chunk of skate is not scallop unless you really pull it apart.

                          1. re: StriperGuy

                            Like I said I've never encountered them but I'll take your word the practice still continues. What I have seen used as scallops are imitation surimi scallops, made like imitation crabmeat & lobster,They are used extensively by many Asian restaurants especially Chinese takeout joints. They come breaded to deep fry & un-breaded to stir fry.They cost a couple dollars a pound and are not bad tasting.

                            1. re: zackly

                              AHHHH, the old meat glue scallops. Bits and pieces of scallop meat glued together, just like they do with beef fillets. US Foods pushes these products.

                              1. re: Tom34

                                I think that's exactly right. They are scallop medallions, made of bits and pieces of smaller scallops. Google scallop medallions and you'll find a lot of information.

                                As I mentioned earlier, the 'scallops' didn't have a bad or spoiled taste. They did resemble scallops somewhat but were clearly not real New England sea scallops.

                                1. re: Tom34

                                  They are two different things. I'm talking imitation scallops made like imitation crab out of cheap white fish like Alaskan pollock and contain zero real scallop meat. The "meat glue" scallop medallions actually are made from scallop pieces as you described. i'd rater have a medallion than an over processed real scallop.

                                  1. re: zackly

                                    off topic for the boston board, but in Calif. calamari "steaks" are popular (or were when I last lived there decades ago). Real squid, real squid taste, but somehow pasted together. Also, in the Pacific NW and Vancouver, oyster burgers are around a lot. Delightful taste. Is this all "meat glue"?

                                    1. re: Madrid

                                      I'm no squid expert but I think calamari steaks are produced for one of the bigger & tougher less desirable species. The best species for culinary applications Latin name is Loligo. The steaks I've eaten have been tenderized either mechanically, chemically or both. Never heard of the oyster burgers but I'd like to try them. "Meat Glue" that they used to use for scallops medallions was a component of beef blood (maybe plasma) if I remember correctly.

                                      1. re: zackly

                                        oh yes, the calamari steaks at least when i last had them seemed to be tenderized mechanically, they had machine-like marks on them that reminded me of the "cube steaks" of my child hood in NC, either purchased "cubed" or "cubed"at home by pounding with a small wooden cutting board. They tasted only of calamari and fresh, could be used in any number of dishes when you didn't have time to clean the calamari yourself. The oyster burgers tasted just like oysters. Grilled, of course, but very tender and juicy. Especially when eaten outdoors with a view of the water on Vancouver Island.

                                        Now I am going to have to look into to the meat glue stuff. Sounds horrifying, and I should just pay for the real thing when I want scallops.

                                    2. re: zackly

                                      I am ok w/imitation crab legs for certain applications. Some brands very bad & some brands ok. Have not seen scallops made of the same stuff. How are they....any scallop flavor.....moist inside or do they brown?

                                      1. re: Tom34

                                        They have a mild scallop flavor, not the deliciously sweet flavor of freshly caught scallops. I don't think you'd notice any difference if you weren't terribly familiar with the real thing. I questioned them a few times before I concluded thus.
                                        I've only had them at restaurants in broiled and fried dishes and they looked fine. Actually, they aren't bad unless you expect true sea scallops.

                                        1. re: Tom34

                                          They are jusk Ok tasting, IMHO. Breaded & deep fried are the best way to prepare I think.The are sold breaded and unbreaded but I've never seen them in stores ,only in wholesale distributors & primatily in Asian wholesale seafood distributors.

                      2. re: hotoynoodle

                        I should have said the odd scallops were found in grilled, fried and baked seafood dishes at three different coastal restaurants known for seafood. No heavy sauces to camouflage. The scallops themselves were not off tasting.They were not 'bad' bland actually but they weren't local sea scallops, either.
                        I'm not going to name the establishments because one meal isn't enough to slam a place. Each was an independent restaurant. And, I'll return to order lobster or fried clams. Lobster if the price is right and fried clams because I don't cook them at home. Sometimes a fisherman's platter hits the spot simply because of the variety.
                        Yes, I love Nantucket scallops best of all, too, but they are out of season. When I was young, a fish market would offer local small bay scallops and large sea scallops all year long. I remember when crabmeat was a cheap substitute for lobster and when lobster meat was $4.00/lb.
                        I appreciate all the responses. Thank you.