Sea scallops have been popular for centuries.

Their shells are even used as a symbol. They represent pilgrims on their way to the coffin of apostle James in the Spanish city of Santiago de Compostela. The famous road called the Way of Saint James, or El Camino de Santiago, is marked with this symbol. Travellers attached a shell to their clothes as an amulet, and after returning from the hard and dangerous journey they stored these shells in their houses. In many European languages, the name of the sea scallop is directly related to the saint's name.

Some cities even hold gastronomic festivals dedicated to this mollusc.

The general name "scallop" refers to about 10 types of molluscs. They are quite adaptable and can live both in southern and northern seas.

The scallop's ribbed shell is light in colour, with shades of violet and pink. It is 10 to 15 cm in diameter.

In Sakhalin, however, there are larger species.

A few kilometers from Yuzhno-Kurilsk on the way to Golovnino, there is a picturesque beach strewn with scallop shells.

These shells can reach 20 cm in diameter and weigh up to 300 grams.

Scallops can live 15 to 20 years. Adult scallops live at the depth of 200 to 300 metres. The most nutritious are young scallops, which are smaller than adult ones.

Scallop meat is a dietary, high-protein, low-calorie and low-fat product, which has got almost no carbohydrates. It contains a large number of valuable minerals, such as iodine, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, copper, manganese, zinc, etc.

Sea scallops are an ideal source of calcium.

Freshly caught, scallops are typically served raw, and seasoned with soy sauce and wasabi.

It's better to serve fried scallops with vegetables (asparagus, Cayenne pepper, cherry tomatoes or fresh cucumbers). Chefs recommend dry white wines as an accompanying beverage.

Many chefs add scallops to salads. The Japanese, for example, use them in sushi.

You should be careful when choosing scallops. Fresh scallop meat has a gray or creamy pink shade.

Scallops must have a pleasant odour: the meat has got a faint smell of the sea.

If the scallop smells odd, it's better not to risk buying it.

If you buy frozen scallops, their texture after being unfrozen must be elastic. The package should not contain any foreign substances.

Frozen scallops are thawed immediately before being cooked. Do not use hot water or a microwave: this will spoil their taste.