General Question

El_Cadejo's avatar

Why do we only eat the adductor muscle in scallops but the entire visceral mass of other bivalves?

Asked by El_Cadejo (34219 points ) November 16th, 2010

I just dont get it. Ive never eaten any other part of a scallop aside from that one muscle. It just seems like a huge waste of meat. As you can see that muscle really doesnt take up a lot of the scallops mass. So there is still plenty of other meat. Does the rest taste really bad or something?

Another thing is you next to never see scallops served in the shell which I find pretty confusing since their shells look pretty. Much cooler than a boring clam shell or ugly oyster. Any reason for this?

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14 Answers

marinelife's avatar

“Those nuggets of flesh that we eat are actually the “adductor” muscles. In the trade, these parts are referred to as the “meat.” In theory, all the Scallop is edible, but it is generally advised to eat only the “meats”, as toxins may accumulate in other parts of the Scallop.”

Practically Edible

squirbel's avatar

@marinelife was the perfect one to answer this! xD

I don’t eat shellfish, but I’ve heard that the rest of the scallop is poisonous. But marinelife’s response sounds the most verifiable.

and om nom nom is my frequent lolsaying

lolsaying – something that you say frequently during conversations that makes no sense

El_Cadejo's avatar

What kind of toxins? Is it something produced naturally by the animal or taken up from the environment?

squirbel's avatar

Environment. I found this after some research.

Source, cited:

Natural Marine Toxins: PSP and Domoic Acid

Paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) toxins and domoic acid are naturally occurring marine toxins. Single-celled marine plants (phytoplankton) produce these toxins. Marine animals that filter their food from seawater may accumulate these toxins. The toxins do not appear to directly harm the animals, but people or some predatory animals eating toxic seafoods may become poisoned. PSP toxins and domoic acid are powerful nerve poisons. PSP toxins and domoic acid have no taste or odor. There is no visible difference between toxic and safe seafoods. Cleaning seafoods in many cases will not remove the toxins. Cooking does not destroy the toxins.

Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning Toxins
Certain one-celled organisms called dinoflagellates produce PSP toxins. Bivalve shellfish (2 shells) filter these organisms from the water. PSP toxins accumulate in the dark digestive organs or viscera of most shellfish. In Washington clams, PSP toxins also accumulate in the siphons (necks). Mussels, oysters, clams, and scallops have caused PSP outbreaks in California, but abalone, crab, shrimp and fish have never been implicated as a source of PSP.

PSP symptoms begin within a few minutes to a few hours after eating toxic shellfish. Symptoms begin with tingling and numbness of the lips, tongue and fingertips. Later symptoms are lack of balance, lack of muscle coordination, slurred speech and problems in swallowing. Complete paralysis and death can occur in severe cases.

Domoic Acid
Domoic acid was only recently discovered (1991) in California. Certain one-celled plants called diatoms produce domoic acid. Bivalve shellfish and some finfish filter these diatoms from the water. In most cases, domoic acid accumulates in the viscera of these animals. In razor clams, domoic acid also accumulates in the meat. Unsafe levels of domoic acid have been found in mussels, oysters, razor clams and the viscera (but not in the muscle tissue) of sardines, anchovies, crab and lobster. Many other species have yet to be investigated.

Domoic acid poisoning symptoms begin within 30 minutes to 24 hours after eating toxic seafood. In mild cases, symptoms may include vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, headache, dizziness and confusion. Difficulty breathing, seizures, coma and death can occur in severe cases. Survivors of severe cases have suffered permanent loss of short-term memory, a condition known as amnesic shellfish poisoning (ASP).

El_Cadejo's avatar

So in theory I could culture scallops and raise ones that are safe to eat ALL of the meat?
Also why then is it safe to eat clams and mussles as they filter too. Actually that thing says its caused problems, but we seem to (for the most part) avoid this problem so why are scallops so much more risky?

squirbel's avatar

/raises shoulders in a clueless gesture

anartist's avatar

goddam I never knew that! When I pull shellfish off the shell, whatever comes, comes. One hard stubbin often remains on mussels and clams and I don’t bother to sit there prying it off. Is that an adductor or an abductor? [can’t get the gym out of my mind on this one!]

El_Cadejo's avatar

@anartist yea that hard white fleshy part that usually remains on clams and mussles is the adductor muscle

anartist's avatar

Are you sure you aren’t eating shark pellets disguised as scallops?

El_Cadejo's avatar

@anartist or skates/rays pass as scallops sometimes as well.

I have an aquaculture class. So I asked my professor this question. He evidently used to farm scallops and still only eat that muscle. He couldnt give me any kind of answer as to why we only eat that aside from thats just whats common. Kinda a crap answer IMO

GivaDogaBone's avatar

Like cow stomach in menudo, must be a cultural thing. Hmmmm, tripe.

El_Cadejo's avatar

uhhh I dont see the relevance

mhder's avatar

I call BS on the toxins. The reason is because if it is true for scallops, then you’d have to stop eating clams, mussels, oysters etc etc. When there are dangers in eating seafood, there are warnings places and it applies to the entire organism, not just parts of it.
Further, it’s really only in Western Restaurants that the abductor muscle is the only part eaten. Asian often utilize the entire scallop. Those westerners who have been lucky enough to eat the Roe (the coloured part of the scallop) have fallen in love with it and even like it better than the muscle itself. The roe and liver of the scallop are excellent sauces as well. I can’t help but laugh/cry watching western scallop farmers/fishermen shuck scallops and throw away the rest of it knowing that they could get some $$ in Asian supermarkets. It’s really too bad.

Bli7z's avatar

I’m asian, we do eat the whole scallop. the roe and the gills are delicious. also in japanese cuisine they make scallop gills sushi, where they only use the gills. but i think it’s also appropriate to use just the adductor for some certain dishes, but IMO there should be alternative dishes even in western culture that use the whole part of the scallops, so we don’t waste too much

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