Start Soaking Your Scallops In Milk Before Cooking | Seafood University (2024)

Start Soaking Your Scallops In Milk Before Cooking | Seafood University (1)

If you’re looking to take your scallop cooking game to the next level, there’s a simple yet often overlooked technique that can make a significant difference in flavor and texture. The secret? Soaking your scallops in milk before cooking them.

While it may sound like an odd thing to do, soaking scallops in milk is a trick long used by professional chefs and experienced home cooks. This seemingly minor step is actually a game changer and transforms your scallops into tender, succulent morsels with a subtly sweet flavor and a perfectly caramelized exterior. In this article, we delve into the reasons behind soaking scallops in milk and exploring the culinary benefits that make it a worthwhile technique.

Benefits of Soaking Scallops in Milk Before Cooking

Milk Serves as a Tenderizing Agent For Scallops

Milk contains natural enzymes like lactic acid that can help break down proteins in scallops. When scallops are soaked in milk, lactic acid tenderizes the meat, resulting in a more delicate and succulent texture. The milk helps to break down the muscle fibers, making the scallops more tender and enjoyable to eat. This tenderizing effect is particularly beneficial if you cook larger and thicker scallops.

Eliminates Mild Fish Odor From Your Scallop

Scallops, like many other types of seafood, can have a mild fishy odor that some people find off-putting. Soaking scallops in milk before cooking can help alleviate this odor. Milk can neutralize or mask the fishy smell, resulting in a milder scent. The milk helps to reduce the intensity of the fish odor, making the scallops more pleasant to cook and easier to consume.

It Helps Remove Sand, and Grit

Scallops are filter feeders, which is why it’s no surprise when they retain small particles of sand or grit in their shells. Soaking scallops in milk can assist in removing these unwanted particles. When scallops are submerged in milk, the sand or grit can loosen and sink to the bottom of the container. This process also makes it easier to remove the scallops from any residual sand or grit before cooking, ensuring a cleaner and more enjoyable eating experience.

How to Soak Scallops in Milk

Step 1: Gather ingredients and tools, including fresh scallops and milk. For quantity, it’s up to you but ideally, the scallops are fully submerged for this technique to work.

Step 2: Inspect the scallops for shells, grit, or tough muscles. Rinse them under cold water.

Step 3: Pat the scallops dry gently using a paper towel.

Step 4: Place the scallops in a bowl or container, ensuring they are fully submerged in milk.

Step 5: Cover the container and refrigerate for 15 to 30 minutes.

Step 6: After the soaking time, drain the scallops from the milk and pat them dry before cooking.

Perfect Scallops Pairings

Start Soaking Your Scallops In Milk Before Cooking | Seafood University (2)

Scallops pair well with various side dishes. Some popular options include sautéed vegetables, rice or pasta, or citrus-based sauces. These side dishes are known for complementing the delicate flavor of scallops and creating a balanced and satisfying meal.

Additions and Variations

While soaking scallops in milk is a common method, there are other alternatives you can use, especially if you have sensitivities or aversion to milk. For instance, you can use acidic marinades like lemon juice or vinegar, or simply use a salt brine. Creating herb-infused oils for marinating the scallops can also add unique flavors to the scallops.


Q: Can I use any type of milk to soak scallops, or is there a recommended type?

A: While whole milk is commonly used for soaking scallops, you can experiment with different types of milk based on your preference or dietary restrictions. Other options such as almond milk, coconut milk, or soy milk can also be used. Remember that different types of milk may impart subtle flavor variations to the scallops, so choose one that complements the dish you are preparing.

Q: How long should I soak scallops in milk for optimal results?

A: The ideal soaking time for scallops in milk is typically between 15 to 30 minutes. This duration allows the enzymes in the milk to work on tenderizing the scallops without overdoing it. However, the soaking time should be extended if you’re working with thicker scallops. It is recommended to monitor the texture and tenderness during the soaking process and adjust the time accordingly.


Soaking scallops in milk before cooking can serve as a tenderizing agent, help eliminate mild fish odor, and aid in removing sand or grit. By following the step-by-step guide and exploring different serving options and variations, you can enhance the quality of your scallop dishes and create a delightful dining experience.

Start Soaking Your Scallops In Milk Before Cooking | Seafood University (2024)


Start Soaking Your Scallops In Milk Before Cooking | Seafood University? ›

Milk Serves as a Tenderizing Agent For Scallops

Should you soak scallops in milk before cooking? ›

Soaking scallops in milk can help remove any unwanted fishy odor or impurities, resulting in a milder and cleaner flavor. This is especially helpful when working with frozen scallops or those with a stronger scent.

Should scallops have a milky liquid? ›

Besides their white appearance, wet scallops may also be resting in a milky, sticky liquid. If you're looking to sauté scallops, dry scallops are preferred because the wet ones have higher water content and won't caramelize in the same way.

What are scallops soaked in? ›

A large percentage of the scallops available in this country have been soaked in a solution containing sodium tripolyphosphate (STPP), which causes the scallops to absorb and retain moisture, before being frozen for sale.

What not to do when cooking scallops? ›

Don't overcook them. To know when they're done, look for the golden crust and opaque flesh. If you put a fork into them at this point, it should glide in. If you have large scallops, slice them in half so that you can monitor whether they are cooked properly on the inside or not.

Why do you soak seafood in milk? ›

Back to the milk. Apparently, the proteins present in milk can bind to the fatty acids that have been exposed to air and give salmon its fishy odor or taste and mitigate them to be more neutral.

How do you cook scallops so they are not rubbery? ›

Once the scallops have caramelized (3–4 minutes), flip and cook for another 1–2 minutes to finish. Be careful not to overcook. When overcooked, scallops will turn rubbery and chewy.

What is the secret to searing scallops? ›

Gently add the scallops to your pan (making sure there is a bit of space in between them to avoid crowding) and let them cook, completely undisturbed for at least 2 minutes over medium-high heat. The more that you move them around, the more difficult it will be to create a nice crust around the bottom.

How many scallops per person to eat? ›

We recommend 8 ounces raw weight per person when serving various seafood items. The size of this order is 2 lbs (approx. 10-12 scallops per lb), which serves approx. 4 people.

Why are my scallops rubbery? ›

If you find your scallops are rubbery or chewy, they're likely overcooked. To fix, simply cook your next batch of scallops for a shorter amount of time. With a reduced cooking time, you may need to increase the heat under the pan to ensure they sear nicely & develop the coveted golden brown & crust.

Should scallops be salted before cooking? ›

Thankfully, we have you covered: Dry Your Scallops: We mentioned this before, but it bears repeating—be sure to dry your scallops before placing them on the pan. Season Them Before You Cook Them: You should sprinkle your salt and pepper onto your scallops before cooking, not during or after.

Why are my scallops not searing? ›

High Heat – Make sure your skillet or griddle is fully heated. If added too early the scallops will stick the pan. The oil should be slightly bubbling and dancing. If the pan isn't hot enough, you will steam the scallops instead of searing them.

How long do I soak scallops in milk? ›

A: The ideal soaking time for scallops in milk is typically between 15 to 30 minutes. This duration allows the enzymes in the milk to work on tenderizing the scallops without overdoing it. However, the soaking time should be extended if you're working with thicker scallops.

What is the black stuff in scallops? ›

Remove the Top Shell

And on the other side, you should have the 'scallop' we all know. Attached to the scallop will be 'the roe', which is that orange piece of meat, and a dark black organ known as the 'belly' or 'liver'.

Should you rinse scallops before cooking? ›

Give your scallops a quick rinse to remove any grit, then thoroughly pat dry with a few paper towels, as excess moisture will inhibit searing. For added insurance, you can dry your scallops in the fridge for an hour or two before cooking.

How do you keep scallops from getting watery? ›

Dry the Scallops

This can be done by generously salting them and then letting them sit on a paper towel-lined plate, uncovered in your fridge from 10 minutes to overnight (the longer they sit, the more moisture will be released). This not only seasons them, but will draw out a ton of surface moisture.

Do you need to soak dried scallops before cooking? ›

Before diving into the cooking process, you need to rehydrate the dried scallops. Start by rinsing them under cold water to remove any impurities. Place the scallops in a bowl and cover them with water. Allow them to soak for at least 30 minutes or until they become pliable.

How to make scallops not taste fishy? ›

Another great option is to soak scallops in milk before cooking. Milk will similarly work to tenderize the meat and can even reduce any fishy taste. You can do this by placing your scallops in the fridge in a bowl of milk for about an hour.

Why do you have to wash scallops for 10 minutes? ›

Make sure you wash in free running water for at least 10 minutes after shucking, rinsing & trimming to ensure all toxins are effectively removed.

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