Scallops are a mild, sweet-tasting seafood similar in appearance to clams and oysters, but differing in other characteristics. Unlike the clam and oyster, the scallop swims by quickly opening and closing its shell. The repeated action of swimming causes the scallop muscle to become very big, resulting in the large, cylindrical-shaped meat that is eaten. For the best flavour and no spoilage, prepare fresh scallops for cooking following some time-tested techniques.
Place fresh scallops, still in the shell, in a plastic container if not cooking them right away. Set the scallops rounded shell down and cover with a lid. Store in the refrigerator until ready to prepare.
Stick a shucking knife into the side of the shell, near the hinge and gently pry the shell apart about 1 inch. This will allow you to easily open the shell after releasing the scallop.
Hold the scallop with the flat shell in the palm of your hand. Insert a filleting knife into one end of the shell, near the hinge, and run the filleting knife around and through the shell to loosen the scallop from the shell.
Scoop the scallop out of the shell by placing the tip of a spoon underneath the edge of the scallop and working the spoon around the perimeter of the scallop. Lift the scallop out of the shell with your hand.
Trim or pull off the frill, which is attached to the outer area of the scallop. Trim off black or darkened parts, which are likely parts of the scallop's stomach. Discard these portions of the scallop so all that's left is the cylindrical, marshmallow-like meat.
Clean the scallop by rinsing or dipping it in a bowl of cold water. Dry the scallops by blotting with a clean towel.
Purchase scallops from a reputable store where you know you will be buying fresh scallops. Check to make sure the shell is tight around the scallop. If the shell is loose or open, the scallop is probably not alive and may be spoiled.
Avoid storing fresh scallops in containers of water as the scallop absorbs the water and loses flavour and nutritional benefits. Always cook and eat scallops prior to their expiration date. Keep fresh and cooked scallops separate so cross-contamination doesn't occur.