The queen scallop (Lat. Aequipecten opercularis), a shellfish that is easiest to imagine as the little sister of the far better-known Mediterranean scallop, is very popular on Istria's western coast. They grow up to 10cm, and are most often caught with nets. Skilled chefs claim queen scallops should be prepared as simply as possible, since exposure to too much heat can ruin the buttery texture of this delicate shellfish.
How to approach a queen scallop
The shellfish season in northwestern Istria lasts from February to March. This is when queen scallops are at their juiciest, and you will find them in the most inventive culinary creations, often served with risottos and homemade pastas. Recipes treat them with delicacy, as one would treat a woman, claim experts – all you need to do is add a little olive oil, wine and garlic for their flavour to shine through fully. Eating queen scallops and shellfish generally requires a relaxed, meditative state of mind. Avoid them if you're in a hurry, and respect the fact that they love refined wines.
A culinary recommendation
The best dish with queen scallops? There are so many that not even our blogger knew the answer when she wrote about the Top 6 Seashells of Northwest Istria. Bavette with queen scallops, queen scallop and asparagus risotto, queen scallops with rainbow pepper, queen scallops au gratin, spaghetti with queen scallops and cherry tomato, pljukanci pasta with queen scallops buzara-style, queen scallops over pumpkin cream... These are just some of the dishes recommended by top Istrian chefs. Fortunately, you'll have to try them yourself to be able to pick the one you prefer. What a wonderful task! Enjoy!