Firm, dry, U/10, saltwater smell — words to live by when buying fresh scallops!

It’s easy to whip up tender scallops in a matter of minutes. Pair ’em with a glass of white wine and you’ve got the perfect start to a summer evening. First, however, you’ve got to make sure you score the very best bivalves on offer at your local fishmonger. Just remember these four terms: firm, dry, U/10, saltwater smell.

So what exactly do these terms mean? You’ll want to look for firm and dry scallops, with a texture almost like pork chops, for one. Avoid shiny, wet and/or soft ones, just like when buying any other fish. Secondly, you should be buying fewer than ten scallops per pound (“U/10” is a kicky way of saying “under 10”) — each should weigh around 1½ or 1¾ ounces. Finally, you don’t want to buy scallops that smell like, well, scallops. A saltwater and/or seaweed smell indicates that they were recently caught, so keep your nose peeled for these.

Check out the brief instructional video below — courtesy of our friends at ChefSteps — and get to searing up an impressive meal tonight!

ChefSteps comprises a team of award-winning chefs, filmmakers, scientists, designers and engineers focused on revolutionizing the way people cook by inspiring creativity and encouraging expertise in the kitchen. You can also get access to all of ChefSteps’ Premium content — including paid classes and dozens of recipes available only to Premium members for a onetime fee — for the special price of $24 (regularly $39). Classes include Sous Vide: Beyond the BasicsFluid GelsFrench Macarons and more!