Singing scallops: The quintessential Northwest ingredient
“When I arrived in Seattle, they were the coolest thing I’d ever seen,” Chef Tamara Murphy of Terra Plata recalls of when she moved here in 1983. The only scallop available in-shell on the West Coast, its striking carapace is just the beginning. Inside, the entire scallop is edible -- rather than just the muscle, as with most varieties -- along with, at times, the rich and vibrantly orange roe sac.
In 1987, The New York Times told the story of the name, quoting a seafood broker who branded them “because they puff through the water with their shells moving, like they're singing.” The piece goes on to describe the scallops as less aggressively sweet than East Coast varieties, with an oyster-like brininess and a bit of nutty flavor. Nick Jones, the only shellfish farmer who currently distributes them, describes the taste as a “cascade of flavor.”
In the ‘90s, as chef of Campagne, Murphy served them fresh from the Market. “They were such a quintessential Northwest ingredient.” Now, she is thrilled to serve them again, describing the shellfish as delicate, interesting, and deeply flavorful. “People come here wanting to taste what makes the Northwest special,” she says, “This is it. A product so fresh and alive that no chef in their right mind would turn down cooking with it.”