Vieira and queen scallop are beautiful pieces of the sea. Rounded, with striking colors, games and symmetries in their shells. Inside, large and fleshy. The queen scallop is smaller in size than the scallop and is rarely given its true name on charts. Badly called scallop, it has little to do in appearance, morphology and flavor with the real one. Neither better nor worse: different and due to its scarcity, the authentic scallop is more appreciated gastronomically and also more expensive.
How to differentiate a scallop from a queen scallop? The scallop has a more elongated shape, with fine striae and a single ear. This is the name given to the part that protrudes on both sides of the point where the shells that enclose the fruit are joined, like a hinge.
Its most characteristic and determining feature when it comes to distinguishing it is that the first one is more 'ugly' – this is what those who capture it alive in the Galician Rías popularly say – purple and greyish, almost black in some cases. And regarding its meat, compared to the common queen scallop, with reddish tones due to its striking coral, the variegated scallop is practically white.
The much sweeter and deeper flavor in the scallop. More marine to the point that, as some chefs describe, if you are not used to eating them it can be too intense. Under its name, the most normal thing is to find queen scallops and small Pacific scallops. All three are bivalve molluscs that inhabit sandy and sandy-muddy bottoms near the coast, at a depth of about 80 metres, where they feed on plankton. And nutritionally they do not present great differences: they are low in cholesterol, they suppose an important contribution of vitamins A and B, iron, phosphorus and iodine.
“Ignorance is such that there have been cases in which, by offering authentic variegated scallops from Ferrol, the client has believed that we were cheating on him, later discovering angrily that until then they were giving him a cat for a hare,” Manuel Otoro, founder of O Percebeiro, explains to ABC. , a Galician company created in 2001 specializing in the marketing of fish, shellfish, bivalves and other Galician sea products.
The error, perhaps not malicious in some cases, is a constant in restoration cards and in the markets. "It is our responsibility to inform chefs, restaurateurs and customers of the differences between species, thus achieving the value that our scallop deserves, a delicate product, ugly in appearance and with an intense taste of the sea," they say from this company based in Puerto de Marín (Pontevedra) and which supplies more than 400 spaces throughout the Spanish geography.
The scallop season in the Rías Gallegas lasts until September. It is only allowed to collect 25 kilos per person per day for four days a week. "Much less than those consumed as scallops in restaurants throughout Spain," they explain from this company about the great culinary deception of the summer.