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Pink vs. White Scallops

By Cook's Illustrated Published November 2012

Does a scallop's color affect its flavor?

The part of the scallop that’s sold at the fish counter is the large adductor muscle that opens and closes its shell. This muscle takes its color from the reproductive gland that lies next to it inside the shell. In male scallops, the gland is grayish white and hence the muscle remains white. Female scallops turn pink only when they’re spawning; during this period, their glands fill with orange roe and turn bright coral, giving the adductor muscle a rosy hue.

To see if there were any differences besides color, we pan-seared and tasted white male scallops alongside peachy female scallops. They cooked in the same amount of time and had identical textures, although tasters did note that the pink scallops—which retained their tint even after cooking—had a somewhat sweeter, richer flavor. Both colors, however, are absolutely normal and do not indicate anything about the freshness, doneness, or edibility of a scallop.

FEMALE

MALE

Done in 281 ms! 61.385 KiB - 7.5% = 56.776 KiB