Scallops | CUESA

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Scallops have two edible parts: the scallop, aka the adductor muscle (the familiar white and meaty portion most commonly consumed), and the roe (the coral-colored egg sac). The roe deteriorates more quickly and, due to lack of demand, is often removed from the scallop before it is sold—a missed opportunity for American consumers. Roe is a well-known delicacy in Europe, enjoyed for its creamy texture. If you find scallops sold with the roe still attached, be sure to try it. Both the scallop and roe can be served grilled or seared.

Scallops are harvested in two ways: “off-bottom,” meaning divers handpick them from the sea floor, or “on-bottom,” using nets called dredges, which are dragged across the ocean floor. The majority of scallops consumed in the U.S. are wild-caught from the Atlantic coast or Canadian fisheries using the dredge method. Dredging can cause disruption to the ecosystems of the sea floor, so scallops harvested by hand are the most sustainable option. The population is abundant and efforts are being made to reduce bycatch, so Atlantic sea scallops are still considered a “good alternative” by Seafood Watch. Imported scallops are generally farmed and harvested using the off-bottom method.

Recipes with Scallops

Seared Scallops with Celery Root Purée and Cherry-Fennel Sunomono

Marc Zimmerman, Alexander’s Steakhouse

Seared Diver Scallops with Spicy Creamed Corn and Sugar Snap Peas

Jamie Lauren, Prana.

Scallop Ceviche with Grapefruit and Avocado

Alexandra Lopez, “The Food Diva” (May 3, 2008).


CUESA (Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture) is dedicated to growing thriving communities through the power and joy of local food. Learn More »