Scallops: Wet vs. Dry
In the seafood business, there are two ways scallops are handled (and sold) on the market: dry and soaked.
"Soaked" (also known as "wet" or "treated") scallops have been soaked in a bath of phosphates (or more precisely- sodium tripolyphosphate), for the purpose of adding water-weight. When scallops are exposed to a phosphate bath, they absorb it and swell - gaining water-weight, and thereby lowering the net cost to the scallop processor. (Keep in mind, that when you buy "soaked" scallops - you are paying for this added water.) The absorbed water evaporates when the scallops are cooked- leaving them smaller, tougher and less-flavorful than their dry counterparts. It is generally easy to discern treated scallops as they will usually appear very white in color.
"Dry" is the seafood industry term for natural scallops, which have not been treated with phosphates. Natural scallops have a slightly tan, or "vanilla"-color. Dry scallops are superior for the following reasons:
- For searing purposes, dry scallops caramelize beautifully!
- Dry scallops taste sweet & natural, where "wet" scallops can sometimes have a washed-out, or even slightly "soapy" or bitter flavor.
- You are not paying for added water with dry scallops.
- The idea of selling "soaked" scallops feels dishonest to us, here at FishEx - so we don't sell them. Ever.
"Soaked" scallops are very common. (At the time of this writing, I don't know the exact percentages - but I suspect that the majority of scallops sold are "wet" - Cade Smith, FishEx Founder.) You can find high-quality dry scallops - but you will need to go to a reputable seafood dealer, and ask. You can buy premium, dry scallops here at FishEx.