Mini bay scallops and larger sea scallops have sweet, white flesh good for sauteing, grilling, broiling or poaching. They work well as entrees and in soups, stews and salads. Scallops are also a sustainable fish, meaning that they are not an endangered or threatened species and are caught or raised using environmentally friendly methods. If scallops are not available or if you want a change of pace, look for other fish that are equally mild in flavor and versatile.
Miniature to Colossal
While shrimp have their own unique flavor and denser flesh than scallops, their range of sizes and adaptability to different cooking techniques make them good stand-ins. Tiny shrimp substitute for bay scallops in pasta dishes and in salads and soup. Larger shrimp substitute as entrees and in salads. Sustainability varies wildly with shrimp -- with both farmed and wild-caught shrimp falling into the "best choice" and "avoid" categories of the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch program depending on different habitat locations.
The Largest of the Flatfish
Halibut has the same color and mild flavor as scallops, but with denser flesh. Cut halibut fillets and steaks into pieces for soups and salads, but serve halibut cheeks like you would sea scallops. The cheeks are literally just that, small, circular muscles near to the halibut's eyes. Considered a delicacy because they are so tender, halibut cheeks are not as readily available as fillets and steaks. For environmental reasons, avoid all Atlantic halibut and set gillnet-caught California halibut.
Chinook, Coho, Sockeye and Chum
Salmon substitutes well for scallops despite its differences in color and texture from the shellfish because it's versatile in cooking, it's flavor pairs well with many other ingredients and it tastes so good. Cut fillets or steaks into bite-sized pieces to substitute in pasta dishes, soup or salad. Most salmon are sustainable and are fished or farmed in environmentally friendly ways except for most farmed Atlantic salmon, which also contain high levels of PCB metals.
The Cod Family
Cod and its close relatives haddock, hake and pollock are all mild, white-fleshed fish you can find year-round and you can substitute for scallops as an entree and in soup. The flesh of cod and its relatives' flesh is firm, but less dense than scallops, so it won't substitute as well in salads or sauteed dishes as salmon or halibut. Cut fillets and steaks of these fish into pieces before using them in scallop recipes. Only some of the cod fisheries are sustainable and environmentally friendly.
- Photo Credit Kim Carson/Photodisc/Getty Images