Scallops are a great food. If you cook them right, they can be delicious, but it is a bit of an art. However, you can never go wrong with smoking, as we all know. Smoking scallops is a great way to add flavor and give them a nice, crispy crust. You don’t need any complicated equipment to make this delicacy either. With a pro food smoker, and salt and pepper, you can create an amazing dish in the comfort of your own home. Here’s how to do it.
What to Look for When Buying Scallops to Smoke
The process of preparing great smoked scallops begins right at the fish counter. When looking to buy scallops to smoke, it is important to find the freshest scallops possible. Look for scallops that are still wet and have a slightly translucent appearance. It is often best to pick scallops from the bottom of the shell, as this is where the shellfish tends to be freshest. Look for firm, meaty scallops with a mild appearance.
Scallops of a similar size and appearance tend to be of similar quality. To avoid any unpleasant surprises, do not buy them as a part of a mixed case. They will be mixed in with other scallops that have been placed out for display for long periods of time. As an added precaution, buy scallops that have not been stored in a refrigerator. Instead, purchase them from a fish market or fresh seafood store with high turnover rates.
What Size Scallops Should You Look For
The next thing you should consider is the size. You want to buy the biggest scallops you can find for smoking. Because scallops are sold on a count-per-pound basis, go for a smaller count. This will give you fewer but bigger scallops per pound.
How to Prepare Scallops for Smoking
Scallops are usually clean when they come from the market. However, that doesn’t mean you get to rest. If you are not certain of their origin and cleanliness, put in some work just to be on the safe side. Start by rinsing them off with running water and then drying them with paper towels.
Then, you will want to season them with a little bit of salt and pepper. Take care with this because scallops are very delicate, so you don’t want to be overly enthusiastic with the seasoning. The same is true with marinades. Avoid any acid-based marinades because they will precook your scallops before you smoke them.
Scallops do not have a lot of fat. You can add a light coating of olive oil on their surface before adding the seasoning. The scallops are now ready for the smoker.
Best Smoking Wood Choices for Scallops
The best part of smoking food is playing around with flavors. As with all foods, the final taste of your smoked scallops will depend on the type of wood you choose. Because scallops have a naturally sweet taste, you will get better results with mild woods. Apple, cherry, and hickory Bisquettes are a good place to start. Their flavors will perfectly complement the sweetness of the scallops without overpowering them. You can also experiment with other types of wood for a varied taste.
How Long Does it Take to Smoke Scallops?
Everyone’s taste is different when it comes to doneness and smoke levels. As a general rule, you don’t want to smoke your scallops for too long. However long you smoke them is dependent on the method of smoking you opt for. You have two options here: slow over indirect heat and fast over direct heat.
If a maximum smoke infusion is what you are going for, you want the slow and slow method. Preheat your smoker to 225 °F (107 °C). Ensure you have your Bisquettes in place, and then place your scallops on the smoker racks. Have your meat thermometer with you from the beginning of the process.
Scallops are considered done when they reach an internal temperature of 145 °F (63 °C). This typically takes around 45–60 minutes in a good food smoker.
Be careful not to overcook the scallops, as they tend to dry out quickly, and you want them cooked through but not crunchy. Observe the color changes carefully to ensure that does not happen.
When done, remove the scallops from the smoker and let them rest for three minutes. If there is any juice left in the scallops, drain it out to prevent them from going mushy, then go ahead and cool them. You can accomplish this by putting the scallops in an ice chest, freezer, or refrigerator. You can even place them in the freezer overnight if you want. Scallops are great smoked and eaten with a good dry white wine. Try it and see how that goes!
For more great ideas on how to get the most out of your Bradley Smoker, check out the awesome articles on our Bradley Smoker Food Smoking Blog for more tips & tricks.