Some fresh (not frozen) scallops you see in the store are as white as snow. Others are more of a pale tan/ivory color. Many people mistakenly think the whiteness means better quality. Actually, it is the reverse.
The snow white scallops are called “wet scallops” because they are soaked in a solution of water and sodium tripolyphosphate. This helps to preserve them and also causes them to absorb more water–and to turn pure white. As a result, the same amount of scallops will weigh more after soaking than before, and bring in more money.
The “dry” scallops are not soaked and hence keep their natural tan/ivory color.
Most seafood lovers always head to the fresh fish counter and never go near the frozen seafood case. Why? Because fresh – that is, never frozen – seafood is generally considered to be higher in quality. This is a misconception. It’s true that high-quality fresh seafood is the gold standard, meaning that it has been handled properly, kept at the proper temperature, and isn’t too old. Unfortunately, most of the “fresh” seafood sold in this country does not meet this standard—you see some pretty sad looking specimens for sale! In contrast, much of the frozen seafood is frozen right on the boats, soon after being caught, or maybe as soon as the boat returns to port. The result can be very good quality fish or shellfish, better than the tired old fillets at the fish counter. So, don’t turn your nose up at it.