Placopecten magellanicus (North Atlantic sea scallop), Argopecten irradians (bay), Argopecten gibbus (calico), Pecten yessoensis (Japanese scallop), Patinopecten caurinus (weathervane)

Market Name(s): Sea scallop, Nantucket bay, China bay, calico, Japanese scallop

Contact Purchasing
  • Primary Source: Northeastern U.S., Canada, China, Japan
  • Season: Frozen product is available year-round. Sea scallop peak production: April - Sept. China bay peak production: Oct - Jan, April - May
  • Primary Fishing Method: Dredge, farmed

Size Range:

Sea scallops (meats):
Avg. Size: 10/40 per pound

Bay scallops:
Avg. Size: 80/120 per pound

Calico scallops:
Avg. Size: 150/250 per pound

Product forms:

FRESH: Roe-off meats;

FROZEN: Roe-off meats, formed meats. Some live product available from dive fisheries in Maine and Washington.

Storage & Handling

Fresh scallop meats should be stored buried in ice and will keep up to two weeks after harvest. Block-frozen meats have a shelf life of approximately nine months; IQF product will keep about six months. Live scallops will last around five days.

Cooking Suggestions

Widely popular, scallops can be cooked in a variety of ways. Their firm meats and sweet taste allow for a wide variety of recipes — just make sure you don’t overcook them. Stop cooking when the outer surface of the scallop turns solidly opaque. They’re great to sauté, but take care not to overcrowd the pan. Cook in batches if necessary, or they will poach rather than sauté. Larger sea scallops are great for marinating and barbequing. Scallops are also excellent breaded and fried.

Selling Points

  • Flavorful and low in fat, scallops appeal to both taste- and health-conscious consumers.
  • Formed scallops offer a high-quality, low-cost alternative for buffets and operators who require low food costs.
  • Depending upon the species, scallops can be served by almost any restaurant.


  • Slimy feeling scallops are sign of overuse of tripolyphosphate.
  • Over-soaked scallops will lose excessive moisture during cooking, resulting in a dry finished product.
  • Native China bays, which may not be identified as such, tend to be a little darker, flatter and less sweet-tasting than true bay scallops from the Northeast.
  • Hints of iodine or sourness are signs of low-quality product.

The Pacific Advantage

  • Full range of scallop products--both block and IQF, processed and unprocessed--that are produced to our customer specs
  • Source fresh and frozen scallops worldwide for a consistent supply of a full range of sizes and prices


Sweet, white and all meat, scallops are a shellfish delicacy that are enjoyed from coast to coast. One reason scallops are so popular is because they're so versatile. You can enjoy them breaded and fried at a coastal clam shack, or sauteed in an Asian ginger-plum sauce at a white tablecloth restaurant. There are hundreds of species of scallops around the world, but three of them dominate scallop sales in the U.S.: North Atlantic sea scallops (Placopecten magellanicus), bay scallops (Argopecten irradians) and the Japanese sea scallop, Pecten yessoensis Americans eat about 70 million pounds of scallop meats a year, about half of which is imported. The leading foreign suppliers are China, Japan and Canada.

Typically, Americans only eat a scallop's adductor muscle, the disc-shaped white meat which connects a scallop's tissue to its shell. In most other countries, however, scallops are eaten with the roe attached to the adductor meat. Live scallops, which are eaten whole like clams or oysters, are also increasingly popular.

North Atlantic sea scallops, which are harvested from Nova Scotia to Virginia, are the largest scallops sold in the U.S., averaging 10/40 count per pound. By comparison, bay scallops typically run 80/120 per pound; calicos, 150/250 per pound. Generally, the bigger the scallop, the more expensive it is. Catches of the small calico scallop, Argopecten gibbus, which are caught off Florida, fluctuate wildly from as much to 13 million pounds of meats a year to less than 1 million pounds. The water content of a scallop's adductor muscle will fluctuate, depending upon the animal's spawning cycle. Typically, dry scallops will have a water content between 75 and 79%.

However, "tripoly" can be abused to promote excessive water pickup, one reason the FDA requires that any scallop with more than 82% water content be labeled as a "water-added" product. A water content of 86% and under is an acceptable moisture level for a processed scallop. Unsoaked "dry" scallops are in increasing demand. They normally sell for about a 20% premium over the same size processed scallop. To test if a scallop is dry, toss one in a smoking hot skillet. If it sticks, it's dry. Dry scallops will also have a nutty, brown color, while soaked scallops will be white. Fresh scallops will have a unique odor that can be relatively strong. This is not an indicator of bad quality. Divers harvest small "singing" scallops from the waters of Puget Sound and BC waters in small quantities. These scallops, which have an attractive pink shell 2 to 4 inches across, are cooked whole and eaten like a steamer clam. The so-called China bay scallop originally came from the U.S. In 1983, a shipment of New England bay scallops was sent to China where 26 animals successfully spawned. From that small beginning, the Chinese now farm-raise upwards of 200,000 tons of bay scallops a year in Northeastern China, much of which is exported to the U.S. There are actually two species of small scallops grown in China: the true bay, A. irradians, and the native Chinese scallop, Chlamys farreri. Cooked, they're hard to differentiate, but raw, the preferred species, the bay, shows a more tan color and tubular shape. U.S. sea scallop landings have declined since 1992 from a high of 40 million pounds of meats to less than 15 million pounds in recent years. But there are signs that that scallops are bouncing back as areas that have been closed are being opened again.

U.S. sea scallop boats are only allowed to fish a limited number of days at sea each fishing year, which starts March 1. As a result, sea scallop landings are heaviest in the spring and summer and lowest in the winter, by which time most boats have used up all their days at sea. Alaska fishermen produce a small quantity (less than 500 tons a year) of weathervane sea scallops, Patinopecten caurinus. Hand shucked and frozen at sea, weathervanes, which average about 10/30 meats per pound, sell for a premium over sea scallops. Fresh scallop meats are usually sold by the (8-lb.) gallon; frozen meats are usually available in 2-kilo and 5-lb. blocks or IQF in 5-lb. bags and assorted retail packs. Large sea scallops are farmed in large quantities on Japan's northern island of Hokkaido. Although the production is small, sea scallops are also now farmed in the waters off Mexico's Baja Peninsula.