Screw You, Placopecten Magellanicus


I have serious issues with scallops.

Mrs. TVFF loves them.  She orders them every time we got to some fancy-pants restaurant.  This is because she says that scallops from a quality restaurant are “sooooo delicious,” and that it’s a sign of a good restaurant if they do them well.  I love her, but she’s wrong about the second point (the correct litmus test is, of course, duck).  However, I dutifully try them and they are, for the most part, a perfectly reasonable meal.

It’s clear that many people absolutely love the things.  They will tell you that they brown nicely, they’re a healthy source of protein and they serve as a wonderful canvas upon which you can create your dish.  That’s one way of looking at it.

Another way to look at it is that scallops are a highly overrated ingredient and are, quite often, a major disappointment.  And possibly a serious threat to our reality television contestants and Hollywood personalities.  So I take it upon myself to do what is necessary — to put scallops in their place.

I know I’m not the only one who feels this way.  And, no, I’m not being irrational, either.  So I present to you a six-point argument explaining why these bottom-dwelling bivalves need to be taken down a peg or two:

  1. Everyone screws them up.  The collective groan that goes up from the crew on the Top Chef Live Blog every time some knucklehead declares that s/he is going to do “pan-seared scallops over a celeriac/roasted red pepper puree” can be heard from miles away. Why?  Because nine out of ten contestants that try to cook a scallop dish fail miserably.  You know they’re going down.  They might as well be a red-shirted ensign on an away team.
  2. Remember that “wonderful canvas” thing mentioned above?  It encourages people to do stupid things.  For example: “Venison, diver scallops, shaved white chocolate, capers, and quail eggs.
  3. I once ordered a spaghetti dish that included “scallops.”  I got a plate with about four hundred pencil erasers.  WTF?
  4. Scallops had at least a small roll in bringing down one of our finest actors, Mr. Jeremy Piven.  Those filter-feeding bastards surely contributed to the mercury levels that felled this giant of stage and screen.  This was quite nearly the low point in his career, second only to being beat out by Jack Black for the part of Barry in High Fidelity.
  5. The whole “scallop wrapped in bacon” hors d’œuvre thing.  Just terrible.  Overcooked, largely flavorless and, if anything, they TAKE AWAY from the taste of perfectly good bacon.  That’s a hanging offense.
  6. That cross-cut thing they do on top of the scallop.  Well, aren’t you just so frigging artistic?

So, there you have it.  That kind of lock-solid reasoning has the scallops crying from their creepy little eyes.  I think we can definitively, and without reservation, say that scallops are clearly overrated.

Feel like piling on the scorn?  Have a thought on which similarly overrated ingredient I should set my sights on next?  Let’s hear it in the comments.

(Photo: Ulterior Epicure)

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  • Lemmonex January 26, 2009  

    Here here! I will eat them but they are most certainly not a favorite. They are often just slimy. No thanks.

  • Yvo January 26, 2009  

    Why not just go with “They don’t taste good” or “They’re flavorless, which is why people say they’re the perfect “canvas upon which to paint your masterpiece”? 😛 Also – another great canvas to paint a masterpiece – fresh snow. I’m just sayin’.

  • Alex Vanderlay January 26, 2009  

    Half the problem you have here in terms of the flavour is that for some absurd reason chefs here seem obsessed with throwing away the roe which is the tastier part and essential for the full scallop experience.

  • Jeb January 26, 2009  

    You are now my favorite blogger on endlesssimmer.

  • gansie January 26, 2009  


  • TVFF January 26, 2009  

    Jeb, I really appreciate the kind words, but I have serious questions about your taste and judgment.

    And now you’ve pissed off gansie.

  • Mrs. TVFF January 27, 2009  

    I wouldn’t say they’re my litmus test, love. What I usually say is something like “it’s not worth getting scallops unless the restaurant is excellent.” When scallops are done well, they’re amazing, but if not, it’s sooo disappointing.

    If you’re going to quote me…..


  • Michael January 27, 2009  

    Great post! I have to agree, but most especially with #5. Good sea scallops are good, but they have to be done just right, which happens about .00001% of the time.

    Also, I heard once that scallop meat is often faked, using skate or monkfish meat. Anybody know if thats true?

  • gansie January 27, 2009  

    and apparently there’s no such thing as Chilean sea bass

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  • Yvo February 26, 2009  

    gansie – Patagonian toothfish just doesn’t ring quite as nice, eh?

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