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Seafood appetizers can serve as a nice prelude to a meal, and a scallop appetizer is a favorite option for this purpose. Preparation can be a relatively simple process, as scallops may be served natural or cooked. Making a scallop appetizer generally involves three steps: light cooking, adding flavorful coatings, and refrigerating until serving time. Some may wish to use scallops as a flavor base for other appetizer dishes like soups.
Scallops are a type of shellfish, and they are classified as either sea or bay scallops. The contents of the shell, particularly the adductor muscles, are highly sought after by seafood lovers. Many commercially available scallops will already be removed from their shells, although some regions offer scallops still in the shells. Unless one wishes to serve scallops as is, they will require some cooking and preparation for a scallop appetizer. In any event, the meat will likely need to be rinsed and possibly cut into smaller portions.
One way of cooking scallops involves placing meat seasoned with salt or pepper in a pan containing olive oil and allowing the heat to cook the scallops for a few minutes. Some regions also prefer sautéing scallops in butter. Individuals may also use other dry-heat cooking methods such as grilling. Properly cooked scallops will likely feel firm, not too chewy, and have a white or opaque coloring.
Coatings provide the scallops enhanced flavor, and individual tastes may determine the ideal coating for a scallop appetizer. Common additives include the following: garlic, soy sauce, salad dressing, pepper, and ginger. Cooks generally bathe the scallops in the added ingredients, or marinate. This step may be accomplished by shaking all of the components in a jar or by combining the additives in a saucepan and then adding the scallops. Some cooks also wrap the flavored scallops in other foods like bacon or breading and cook further.
Individuals could use scallops as an appetizer component as well, rather than the scallop being the main focus of the pre-meal. For example, Japanese cooks often place bits of scallops in sushi or soups. Raw scallops should be added to hot appetizers a few minutes before serving, because these meats do not reheat well and the warmth from other foods will help cook the scallops. The term scallop could even refer to a dish bearing no scallops or no seafood. On occasion, certain types of foods that are prepared creamy and hot — such as potatoes — may bear the scalloped name.
Appetizers are meant as a prelude to the main course, so they should be served in a convenient and easily consumable manner. Serving trays may work, or the contents may be laid out on a table. For individual scallop appetizer pieces, one may push toothpicks or other handling devices through the foods.
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