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Complaining to the fishmonger

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

So yesterday I went to my local fishmonger and bought what I thought were beautiful sea scallops.  They were $13.99/lb and they looked large, plump and inviting.  I got them home and cleaned them, and dried them off as best I could using paper towels.  I left them drying in paper towels for a half hour as they came up to room temp.  Then I seasoned them and put them into a screaming hot pan with olive oil.  Each scallop had at least 1.5in space around it, the pan was not crowded.  Immediately the bottom of the pan was bubbling with liquid and this liquid would not evaporate.  Of course I couldn't get a sear until all the liquid evaporated... eventually!  Then I turned them over and same thing, pan full of liquid!  I was screaming angry!  The scallops that were once plump and big were now the size of a quarter, they had reduced in size by at least half.  

 

And then there was the taste of ammonia.  

 

Obviously these were not good scallps, heck they might not have been scallops at all.  My question is, what do I say to the fishmonger?  I usually get good stuff from him.  Should I inform him of how these turned out, or does he already "know?"  Will this impact my relationship with him in the future?  What would you say?

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #2 of 14

I would tell him of your experience with cooking them. How they released a lot of liquid and smelled of ammonia and shrank up dramatically. Tell him it was extremely disappointing. Then ask him to educate you on what to look for in the future so that it doesn't happen to you again.

 

This approach may not get you a profound apology and a reimbursement, but more importantly, it will tell you about his character in a heartbeat. From there you can decide about any future possible commerce with him.

 

Hopefully, it was lack of knowledge on his part that allowed that product to be offered for sale. Sad to say, but most of the guys I meet these days that are selling seafood, don't really know squat about it. I have actually had purveyors ask me to help them to know what to look for when they buy from their guys.

Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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post #3 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Koukouvagia View Post

Obviously these were not good scallps, heck they might not have been scallops at all. 

 

I just saw the photo you posted in the tomato challenge and near as I can tell by looking at the picture, it would appear that they are indeed scallops as I believe that I could see the smooth muscle.

Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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post #4 of 14
Thread Starter 
So
Quote:
Originally Posted by cheflayne View Post

I just saw the photo you posted in the tomato challenge and near as I can tell by looking at the picture, it would appear that they are indeed scallops as I believe that I could see the abductor muscle.
Sometimes I've heard that seafood can be replaced by lesser types of seafood, and so I considered this a possibility. I think they were scallops too.

They were labeled sea scallops, any idea how these are different than diver scallops, which I can never find anywhere except on menus.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #5 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Koukouvagia View Post



They were labeled sea scallops, any idea how these are different than diver scallops, which I can never find anywhere except on menus.

 

Most commercial scallops are gathered by dredging, scraping up the scallops from the bottom.  Not sure how much scallop farming is taking place these days.  Diver scallops are, as one might surmise, hand gathered by divers.  A person goes down and individually picks the scallops off the bottom, or where ever they are sitting.  Divers can pick out the bigger ones, and not as much grit and dirt and debris is stirred up, which can get into the scallops during dredging.   So diver scallops require a lot more labor and the price reflects that.

 

mjb.

Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
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Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
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post #6 of 14

Have you ever had the chance to get scallops that are still alive in their shell?  The muscle is firm and small, about the size of a quarter.  A scallop shell never gets larger than your hand.  The muscle is a small part of it that opens and closes the shell.  My understanding is that during the processing and freezing of scallops they do something to the flesh to make it absorb lots of water.  Any time I see processed frozen scallops that are larger than a quarter and smooth I know that they will leak water like that.  The only scallops I've been able to get good coloring on are fresh ones.

post #7 of 14

They are bad. They should hardly smell at all.. Tell him someone got sick see what he says

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #8 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by chefedb View Post

They are bad. They should hardly smell at all.. Tell him someone got sick see what he says

 

Well I wouldn't do that.  Nobody got sick, not even my 2yr old who loved them and was screaming when I tried to take his plate away.  

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #9 of 14

Nothing wrong with those scallops.

 

Two kinds of scallops they sell: Dry scallops (not treated), wet scallops (treated scallops, cheaper).

 

Ask for dry scallops.

 

You can also tell somewhat. Wet scallops are kind of translucent and uniform in color. Dry scallops are more opaque and with some white and some pink in color.

 

dcarch

post #10 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by dcarch View Post

Nothing wrong with those scallops.

 

Two kinds of scallops they sell: Dry scallops (not treated), wet scallops (treated scallops, cheaper).

 

Ask for dry scallops.

 

You can also tell somewhat. Wet scallops are kind of translucent and uniform in color. Dry scallops are more opaque and with some white and some pink in color.

 

dcarch

 

I think this is the key information. Wet scallops are shucked into a container of water, often having salt and other preservatives that extend the shelf life of the scallop. The scallops end up absorbing a lot of this liquid. Dry are shucked but not put in a liquid with any preservatives and do not keep as long. So the costs are higher. As for the ammonia smell, in my opinion, regardless of the technique that is a sign that a seafood has been kept too long .. its similar to shrimp.. they should not smell "shrimpy" if they are extremely fresh.

post #11 of 14

Usually a good  look at the scallops in the display case will tell you what you want to know. Wet scallops will have a milky white liquid pooled at the bottom of the pan. Dry scallops will be....dry.

Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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post #12 of 14

Do what you want, all I know if I smelled the slightest aroma of ammonia back they would go to the fish guy.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #13 of 14

tell him you want diver scallops... they are the only scallop that is not soaked in solution to add size and weight... 

post #14 of 14

I believe dcarch has put his finger on it...

 

There are wet-pack scallops which are treated in a way that loads them with water: they weigh more and do what Koukou'  saw when they're cooked. Dry-pack scallops have much less moisture and take on the nice golden color when pan-seared. Around here, Whole Foods is about the only place that has the dry-pack, and they're usually well over $20/lb. Sea scallops are notably larger than Bay scallops. As mentioned, diver scallops are picked individually by hand, not dredged up.

 

My wife and I both love scallops, but she discovered on one of our first dates that she is seriously allergic to them. She grew up in the mountains of northwestern Pennsylvania, where scallops weren't plentiful, and had apparently had never eaten them.

 

Courting, I took her out for a lovely scallop dinner and she becamy violently sick as I was walking her back to her college dorm.  We got married anyway, but she's been angry ever since that she can't eat them.  Whenever I fix scallops for me, I have to make her a separate meal, and she glares at me while I enjoy my scallops. :o

 

Mike

travelling gourmand
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travelling gourmand
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