Catch the scallops. (Do not forget this step)
Keep them alive as long as possible. A mesh bag with a float ring like the one above can be tied to the boat while you hunt scallops.
If you are not keeping them alive, put them on ice immediately.
Definitely use ice to transport them home, whether you cleaned them on board the boat, or are taking them home whole to clean.
Slide a knife blade in between the shells near the hinge and move the blade against the inside roof of the shell to separate the single delicious adductor muscle from the top shell.
This will allow you to open the shell completely.
Now open the shell. You can see the top of the cylindrical white adductor muscle surrounded by brown mantle and viscera.
The mantle and viscera are edible, but traditionally in America, only the white adductor muscle is eaten.
(BACK OFF NOUVEAU CUISINIANS! I SAID TRADITIONALLY! YOU FOLKS CAN EAT THE WHOLE SHELL IF YOU WANT, BUT THIS IS ABOUT CLEANING THEM THE LOCAL WAY.)
...Now, where was I?
... oh yeah ...
Gently scrape the knife blade over the adductor muscle to pull the mantle and viscera off of the prized white meat.
STEP SIX :
Now simply run the blade along the inner shell to separate the attached end of the white adductor muscle from the shell.
This is a great step to let kids do, only ... DON'T GIVE THEM A SHARP KNIFE FOR CRYING OUT LOUD! WHAT KIND OF PARENT ARE YOU?
A spoon works great for scooping that attached muscle from the shell. When our kids were little, we would do the knifey part and pass the shell-muscle combo to the kids who were armed with old spoons.
Many hands make short work!
Late season scallops have had time to grow and the muscles are much bigger than those at the opening of the season in mid summer.
You get more meat while taking less scallops!
Taking less scallops means more to spawn for next year.
Why, ... these scallops are naked.
Let us clothe them in flour, salt, and pepper so they be not ashamed of their nekkidness.
Go light, light, light on that breading.
Fresh scallops have a delicate flavor and you don't want a heavy breading masking their essence.
(Yes, you can do all kinds of fancy things to scallops, but we like them southern fried)
Go figure ...
Stand around the stove and eat them as soon as they are cool enough to pick up.
That's all there is to it.
Now you may hear of people using shop vacs to slurp away the visceral mass ... heehee, yes some folks actually do that.
What's even lazier is some folks PAY to have locals in scalloping areas clean their catch.
That tickles me just to picture it.
Give me a break people ... this is not rocket science.
(I know, because I teach rocket science.)
*Hands courtesy of Mrs. FC, the quickest scallop cleaner on the nature coast.