The Difference Between Scallops, Oysters and Mussels

We all know that scallops, oysters, and mussels are fairly similar (and super delicious), but did you know they’re in the same family as sea slugs, octopuses and snails? Eek! All of these shelled, unsegmented creatures belong to the mollusk family. Scallops, oysters and mussels are the favorites of the family, and typically harvested or farmed for yummy meals. Lucky us! Now that you know a few of their similarities, here are plenty of ways scallops, oysters and mussels differ:

Life Before They Become Lunch

Those seared scallops on your plate used to have a life. Gasp! No one likes to think about what their lunch was like when it was alive and breathing, but it’s the first step toward distinguishing between these three types of shellfish. The three all have very different MOs in the water, and it’s one of the main characteristics that set them apart.

Scallops: Scallops move around in their environment, and do so in a pretty impressive fashion. These tasty mollusks clap their shell together to swim.

Oysters: These babies are totally immobile. Oysters are rooted to whatever surface they attach their shell. No fancy swimming for them.

Mussels: Mussels are just as boring as oysters when it comes to their method of travel, considering it’s nonexistent. But, they do have feet! Unfortunately, mussels typically neglect to put their feet to use, and prefer to stay attached to a surface.

 

Shell Yeah!

Too corny? Oh well. The shapes and sizes within the mollusk family vary widely, and it’s no different when it comes to scallops, oysters and mussels. Some are definitely more attractive than others, but none lack flavor! The ratings are in, and here are the results for the good, the bad and the ugly:

Scallops: If mollusks could win a superlative, scallops would win “most attractive”. Not only are they talented swimmers, they also have two hinged shells that resemble colorful seashells. Talented AND pretty? Life just isn’t fair.

Fun fact! Scallops have about 60 eyeballs that line their mantle. These bright blue eyes work to detect light and motion.

Oysters: Oyster shells are round or oval and have a rough, gray surface. Definitely not the prettiest, but they make up for it with their ability to make beautiful pearls. Okay…so the oysters we eat can’t actually make us a nice pair of earrings, they do help filter the water and fertilize plants. Priorities I guess, right?

Mussels: These thin, oblong shelled mollusks have been a food source for over 20,000 years, and for good reason. They’re incredibly healthy and taste great in a white wine butter sauce, which probably cancels out the health benefits. But it’s totally worth it.

 

The Most Important Difference…

How each one tastes, that is! Sure, it’s cool that scallops have eyes, but we care a little more about what they taste like after our awesome chefs are done with them. Scallops, oysters and mussels dominate a good portion of our entrees, so it’s important we distinguish the flavor differences.

Scallops: When you eat a scallop, you’re actually biting into a muscle. They have a texture similar to a fish, and lack the slimy texture that accompanies the other two. Light, sweet scallops look like they’ve been formed in a perfect, impressive circular mold, and have impressive health benefits to go along with it. Scallops are rich in magnesium, B12, zinc, selenium and loads of protein.

Oysters: They’re the most nutrient dense, most expensive and taste pretty dang good with lemon juice and hot sauce. Some are briny and some taste sweet, and their flavor all depends on the season, water and preparation.

Fun fact for the love birds…oysters are known for their reputation as an aphrodisiac. Oysters are the single greatest source of dietary zinc, which the body uses to produce testosterone.

Mussels: Mussels have started popping up on every gourmet menu across the globe, for a couple main reasons. They take simple ingredients to prepare and can be on the table in minutes. Not only are mussels perfectly paired with a white wine, butter and garlic broth, they pack a hefty amount of nutrients. B-vitamins? Check. Zinc, selenium? Yep. Protein? Oh yeah.

Shellfish is one of our specialties at Marker 32, and our menu is filled with them. Now that you know the difference between scallops, oysters, and mussels, come try them in one of our delectable entrees! Whether you’re in the mood for our raw bar or one of our gourmet entrees, our scallop, oyster and mussel dishes are sure to make your mouth water!