fine dining recommends purchasing “dry-packed” bay scallops or scallops, which are off-white or slightly pinkish in color. Wet scallops, by comparison, are bright white due to the bleaching agent phosphate in the preservative.
When cooking, dry scallops will sear better. As Illustrated cooks explains, when moist scallops hit the pan, they release the excess water absorbed in the preservation process. This steams the scallop rather than searing it, which gives the shellfish a rubbery texture while losing that sought-after golden crust.
According to Martha Stewart, whichever scallop you have chosen, press it down gently with a paper towel to absorb any excess moisture before placing it in a hot pan – using high smoke point oil and taking be careful not to crowd the scallops. These extra steps early in the cooking process will help you get the crucial cooking done right.
While the wet scallops keep longer thanks to the added preservatives, the dried scallops have the advantage of being fresher. The price of dried scallops can be exorbitant when checking out, but it’s important to remember that wet scallops carry more liquidso you might end up paying more for sheer water weight…and less flavor.