Māori Name: tupa
Name Scientific: Pecten novaezealandiae
Availability: July to February
Attributes Length: 10–15cm
They are found around the coast in the sandbanks and mudbanks of sheltered bays from the low tide mark out to about 50 metres depth. They lie on the seabed with the flat shell uppermost, often singly but sometimes grouped in beds.
Fan-shaped bivalve shell with deep ridges that radiate from the hinge. Colours are variable, including brown, orange, yellow, pink, or flesh-coloured or a mix of these. The upper valve of the shell is flat, and the lower valve is concave. The flesh is white and the roe is usually bright orange. They move by suddenly closing the shell to shoot water from the hinge. This propels the shellfish in a series of jerky jumps. Scallops have two rows of eyes around the mantle, which can sense danger when the valves of the shell are open.
Scallops belong to the Pectinidae family (scallops).
Spawning occurs in the spring and early summer. They mature rapidly, often reaching the legal size of 10 centimetres within three years.
One of our most popular shellfish, scallop harvesting is subject to controls on the season and hours of fishing in addition to the catch limits set under the Quota Management System. Minimum sizes are set for both recreational and commercial fisheries. Commercial harvesting is only permitted in areas where biotoxin testing has been completed. Monitoring of shellfish and water quality is carried out to specifications set by the Ministry for Primary Industries and international markets. A temporary closure for commercial and recreational scallop harvesting in the Nelson and Marlborough Sounds area for the 2016-17 season was announced by the Ministry in July 2016 to enable stocks to rebuild.
The main dredging areas are Tasman Bay and Golden Bay, Marlborough Sounds, Coromandel coasts, and Northland coasts. They are best harvested before they spawn.
Did You Know
Scallops use a form of jet propulsion to swim. They snap their shells shut to make water shoot out at the hinge, moving the shellfish in jerky jumps across the seabed.
Scallops are tender and juicy when cooked quickly on a high heat with a light, gentle touch. If overcooked, their texture can become rubbery. They should be removed from heat as soon as the flesh changes from translucent to white. Grilled/ seared scallops are very popular, however they can also be sautéd, baked, barbequed, fried, poached, added to a paella, pasta or risotto or marinated.
Scallops should be bought plump and fresh, with firm lustrous flesh, showing no signs of discolouration or dryness. Scent is also a good indicator of freshness - scallops should smell slightly sweet and pleasantly briny but not sharp.