Here you see a whole scallop. When wild scallops are dragged up the metal rings in the drag let any scallop smaller than 4" fall back into the sea. Sitting on the shell pictured here you see that row of tiny dots which serve as the scallop's eyes. The red bit is the female reproductive organ. Inside the creamy mantle is the pure white adductor muscle, the part we eat. Perched atop of that is a black digestive gland, the part we definitely do not want to eat.
Many people are only familiar with the wild caught adductor muscles as the rest of the scallop is shucked, cut away, discarded at sea. Why is that? Because scallops are filter feeders they can ingest toxins. Farmed scallops are rigorously tested to be sure there are no toxins but there is no practical way to test the whole fishing grounds for the wild scallops so the questionable parts are simply discarded. The muscle meat does not harbor toxins.
(By the way, scallops have adductor muscles - pull to- and abductor muscles - pull away- to open and close their shells. You often see the meats referred to by the wrong term. You can now join the folks who know and use the correct term for those delicious meats- the mighty muscles that pull the shells to one another, ie closed, the adductors!)
Fortunately, we now have both wild caught and farmed scallops available. What a gift to our whole coastal economy! Since the whole farmed scallops have a slightly different taste and consistency we even have a cookbook full of suggestions for how to handle them. Farmed scallops and wild caught scallops - what a gift. Lucky us!
During the cold winter months wild scallops are more available than farmed scallops which are fussy about being hauled up to cold temperatures. If you have saved your scallop shells you might want to copy Donna Brewer's clever craft of glueing them onto strings of lights.
Wishing you wonderful holidays however you celebrate!