I'm still in Seattle, home of the seafood. Tonight, I tried something completely new to me--something that I've tried to try, and those attempts have ended in nausea, near to puking. It's a bit of seafood that my husband has always insisted is especially mild, and yet has never struck me as such. I speak, my dears, of the dreaded scallop.
Okay, so it's not so dreaded. At least not anymore. Because eating is believing, or something like that. Now that I've had scallops, I believe my husband when he says they're mild. But I also believe that I've learned a valuable lesson about seafood over the past few months. I've never experienced a food group that is more temperamental. On one plate of scallops (or shrimp or clams or mussels) there can be some little guys who are sweet and tender and delightful and some that are gritty and chewy. And I don't know exactly how much control the cook has over that. I know that there are things you can do to make mollusks give up their grit before cooking them (the Barefoot Contessa recommends bathing mussels in warm water and flour to make them regurgitate any sand before cooking) but I'm sure that's hit-or-miss. As for rubberiness, it could relate to freshness or cooking time, or it could be that one scallop spent more time swimming than his buddies did. I just don't know.
What I do know is that you shouldn't let the rubbery, gritty ones turn you off entirely. Because some little seafood things are actually quite tender and delightful. Though--the motto with seafood has to be (because they can cause illness) "when in doubt, throw it out." So it's a delicate balance, I suppose.