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Pink vs White Scallops: Which is Better?

Pink vs White Scallops: Which is Better?

If you're a seafood lover, you've probably come across scallops on restaurant menus or at the fishmonger. Scallops are a type of shellfish that are prized for their sweet, delicate flavour and tender texture. However, did you know that there are two different types of scallops: pink and white? In this article, we'll explore the differences between pink and white scallops, how to prepare and cook them, and answer some frequently asked questions.

When comparing pink and white scallops, the most noticeable difference is their appearance. As the name suggests, pink scallops have a pinkish hue, while white scallops are, well, white. The colour difference is due to the gender of the scallop: female scallops turn pink when they're spawning, while male scallops remain white. However, the colour difference isn't just skin deep. Pink and white scallops also differ in taste and texture, which we'll explore in more detail later.

Whether you're a seasoned cook or a seafood newbie, preparing and cooking scallops can be a bit intimidating. However, with the right technique, you can cook scallops that are perfectly seared on the outside and tender on the inside. We'll walk you through the steps to prepare and cook scallops, including how to choose the right scallops, how to clean them, and the best cooking methods. So, let's dive in and explore the world of pink and white scallops!

Key Takeaways

  • Pink and white scallops differ in appearance, taste, and texture.
  • When preparing and cooking scallops, choose the right scallops, clean them properly, and use the best cooking method for your dish.
  • Knowing the differences between pink and white scallops can help you choose the right type of scallop for your recipe.

Comparing Pink and White Scallops

Pink and white scallops arranged in a row, with pink ones on the left and white ones on the right

Distinctive Characteristics

When it comes to pink and white scallops, the most obvious difference is the color. Pink scallops are typically female and turn pink when they are spawning, while white scallops are usually male. However, this doesn't mean that all pink scallops are female or that all white scallops are male.

Aside from color, pink and white scallops also have some differences in their texture and taste. Pink scallops tend to be slightly sweeter and more delicate in flavor, while white scallops have a slightly firmer texture and a more robust flavor. Pink scallops also tend to be smaller in size compared to their white counterparts.

In terms of sustainability, it's important to choose scallops that are harvested using responsible and sustainable methods. Pink and spiny scallops, for example, are often harvested using hand-diving techniques, which are more environmentally friendly compared to dredging.

Culinary Uses and Recipes

Both pink and white scallops can be used in a variety of culinary applications. Pink scallops are often used in raw preparations such as ceviche or sushi, as their delicate flavor and texture pairs well with citrus and other light flavors. White scallops, on the other hand, are often used in cooked dishes such as stir-fries, stews, and pasta dishes.

When cooking scallops, it's important to not overcook them, as they can become tough and rubbery. A general rule of thumb is to cook scallops for 1-2 minutes on each side, depending on their size. You can also use white wine to deglaze the pan and create a flavorful sauce to accompany your scallops.

Preparing and Cooking Scallops

Scallops sizzling in a hot pan, turning from translucent white to a delicate pink color as they cook. A chef's knife and lemon slices sit nearby

Selecting Quality Scallops

When selecting scallops, it is important to choose fresh, high-quality ones. Look for scallops that are firm, plump and have a sweet, ocean-like scent. Avoid scallops that appear wet or have a strong fishy odour. If you have the option, choose dry scallops over wet scallops as they have not been treated with any chemicals and will sear better.

Cooking Techniques and Tips

Scallops are a versatile seafood that can be cooked in a variety of ways. Here are some popular techniques and tips for cooking scallops:


Searing is a popular technique for cooking scallops. To sear scallops, heat a skillet over medium-high heat and add a small amount of oil. Pat the scallops dry with a paper towel and season with salt and pepper. Place the scallops in the skillet and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side until they are golden brown and caramelised.


Grilling is another great way to cook scallops. Preheat your grill to medium-high heat and brush the scallops with oil. Season with salt and pepper and place them on the grill for 2-3 minutes on each side until they are cooked through.


Baking is a simple and easy way to cook scallops. Preheat your oven to 200°C and place the scallops in a baking dish. Season with salt and pepper and add a pat of butter and a squeeze of lemon juice. Bake for 10-12 minutes until the scallops are cooked through.


Pan-searing is similar to searing, but the scallops are cooked in a non-stick pan with a small amount of butter or oil. This technique is great for creating a golden-brown crust on the scallops.


Scallops pair well with a variety of sauces, including lemon-butter sauce, garlic butter sauce, and white wine sauce. Experiment with different sauces to find your favourite pairing.

Diver Scallops

Diver scallops are considered to be the highest quality scallops as they are hand-harvested by divers. They are generally more expensive than other types of scallops, but their sweet flavour and tender texture make them worth the splurge.

Frozen vs Fresh Scallops

Fresh scallops are always the best option, but frozen scallops can be a good alternative if fresh ones are not available. When using frozen scallops, be sure to thaw them in the refrigerator overnight before cooking.

Scallop Recipe

There are countless scallop recipes available online, from simple seared scallops to more complex dishes like scallop risotto. Experiment with different recipes to find your favourite way to cook and enjoy scallops.

Frequently Asked Questions

Pink and white scallops arranged in rows, with a large "Frequently Asked Questions" sign above them

Are pink scallops safe for consumption?

Yes, pink scallops are safe for consumption. The pink colour is a natural occurrence in some scallops, and it does not affect their safety or quality. However, it is important to ensure that the scallops are fresh and properly cooked before consuming them.

How do the flavours of pink and white scallops compare?

The flavour of scallops can vary depending on their species, location, and how they are cooked. However, in general, pink scallops tend to have a slightly sweeter and more delicate flavour compared to white scallops.

What's the difference between pink, white, and sea scallops?

Pink and white scallops are two different species of scallops, with different colour and flavour characteristics. Sea scallops, on the other hand, are a larger species of scallop that can be either pink or white.

Can you differentiate pink, white, and bay scallops?

Yes, you can differentiate pink, white, and bay scallops based on their size and colour. Pink and white scallops are larger than bay scallops, and they have a distinct colour difference. Pink scallops have a pinkish-orange hue, while white scallops are pale beige or ivory in colour. Bay scallops, on the other hand, are much smaller and have a translucent, creamy-white colour.

What's the general consensus on pink versus white scallops on online forums?

Online forums indicate that people have varying preferences when it comes to pink versus white scallops. Some prefer the sweeter, more delicate flavour of pink scallops, while others prefer the firmer texture and more savoury flavour of white scallops. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference.

What's the significance of the colour in scallops?

The colour in scallops is a natural occurrence that can be influenced by several factors, including the scallop's diet, location, and species. The pink colour in some scallops is caused by the presence of carotenoids, which are pigments that are also found in carrots and other vegetables. The colour does not affect the quality or safety of the scallop.