Scallop myth?

I’ve heard a persistant myth that “scallops” you get at stores and restaurants are actually cut from the wings of rays. I maintain that this cannot be true (on a large scale, dismissing the occasional unscrupulous fishmonger), because it would be illegal to sell chunks of ray wings as scallops.

Did this ever happen? Is there an authoritative site that refutes the myth (i.e., an official government page, etc.)?

My Biology 102 teacher told me this as well, although I haven’t gotten any confirmation on it. If it’s a myth, it’s a persistant one.

Fake scallops and crab are more properly called “surimi” and are made from pollock, cod or other white fish through a fairly involved process. I can’t find any site that speaks to your question, but I believe that any reputable restaurant would not risk their reputation by claiming something to be what it isn’t.

Many years ago, punched out cod was sold frozen as “scallops”, but there have been changes in advertising laws and truth in labeling requirements are more stringent today.



I searched the USFDA site, but couldn’t find anything about scallops.

I thought that it was common knowledge that cheaper scallops were cut from skates. Considering that Long John Silvers sells scallops, either scallops are easy to harvest or the myth is true.

I’ve had both scallops and skate wing and they seem to be different in texture and taste.

I’m not saying there’s nothing to the rumor, only that, in my experience they’re different. If they’re actually the same meat treated to make two different forms it’s pretty well done.

Scallops are bivalve mollusks. Skates are fish. No same-same. Not even in the same family.

The only authoritative cite I can offer to support the belief that skate wings are made into fake scallops is this:

The Pacific Coast Federation of Fisherman’s Associations

This thread made me think of something funny…

I worked in an upscale restaurant for 7 years throughout my high school/college years. Often times (practically) untouched food would come from guests tables and be placed in the back for the staff to partake in if they wanted. This happened quite often, especially with appetizers and expensive items like lobster/crab.
We cooks would find ways of duping other staff…

-a scoop of whipped butter in a sundae bowl covered with chocolate is a lot of fun.

-we were able to recreate scallops using the fat from prime rib. Cut into circles and place into a ceramic dish, sprinkle with bread crumbs and parsley…

to see the other staff dine on these items resulted in absolute hilarity…practical joke wars would ensue for months…

It’s a pity the search engine doesn’t seem to be working right now. I asked this very question a year or so back, led to a informative thread.

Any scallop you buy at the store will be a real scallop, unless specifically marked as imitation scallop. Any reputable restaurant will serve scallop, not skate. Serving skate flesh as scallop is something that may have been done by shady sorts in the past, but it’s going to be rare these litigous days.

It’s pretty easy to tell by looking at the grain of the meat if it’s real scallop or not. Real scallop muscle is composed of many short strands running paralell to the axis of the cylinder of meat, with no apparant side-to-side grain or flaking. Fish flesh will have a side-to-side grain and may be noticeably flaky.

I hear that over in England you can by scallops with the (apparantly quite tasty) roe still attached. Obviously, that makes it easy to tell it’s not fake.

umm, I had never heard that one.

I was popping in the second that skate doesn’t taste like scallops, I wonder how they could “fake” a customer, if that person had scallops before…

I think I like skate better than scallops ! Ohhhh skate with a butter sauce and capers…

As you can see, it’s not an easy answer to pin down. Food in the US is sternly regulated, so it’s not something that routinely is cheated on. However, fish comes from all over the world, from countless suppliers. It is conceivable that some supplier, somewhere, has bribed the local Skate Board and is selling skate as scallops. It’s unlikely.

There are definitely, absolutely no scallops in scalloped potatoes. :wink:

That actually sounds pretty good :-9

Here’s an earlier thread, with links to other earlier threads:

This agrees with what I remember reading in William Poundstone’s book Bigger Secrets. As I recall, he interviewed some sort of federal fish inspector who said that in many years of work, he had never found skate mislabeled as scallops. And they’re really not hard to tell apart.

In November and December of '73 I worked on a drag boat, the Western Seas, out of Crescent City, California. Tugboat work in SF Bay had slowed down and I wanted some money and adventure. Bad idea as the work was way too hard and the money too little.
Anyway, we used to catch some rays in the net. The captain would ‘salvage’ the wings from the rays and punch out some meat, to be sold as scallops. This was the only manual work he did vis a vis the fish, so this was probably a sideline of his. Whatever, selling fake scallops was done during November, December 1973 in Crescent City, Ca.

Ditto monkfish sold as lobster meat.

Fake scallops don’t need to be prepared and sold for customers looking for a true scallop taste. They are drenched in butter and deep fried, the only thing you really taste is the breading and fat, throw in a vague fishy taste and it’s pretty authentic tasting. Provided the texture is similar faking it would be pretty easy.

If they were broiling or baking them my guess is most people could tell the difference.

Kinda like chicken nuggets or sausage, plenty of examples of those being made with things other then real meat and people eating them couldn’t tell you they were ‘fake’

How about another supposedly common seafood fake; selling shark as swordfish? Does this happen or is it an urban legend?

Honestly if you can’t tell skate from scallop you don’t like scaollps very much.

If you’re buying unshelled lobster meat you’re getting what you deserve.

Not just “can” buy, it’s the usual way, in my experience (apart from some prepacked supermarket ones). Why would you want to discard a quarter of the meat?