Because of the labor shortage in the restaurant industry, a result of the coronavirus pandemic, Mr. Wiley said, the chefs at his restaurant hadn’t experimented with the roe. They hope to this winter, even if they aren’t quite sure about the reception they’ll get.
“Offal is a tough sell, especially seafood offal,” he said.
This, however, is not the case in much of Asia, particularly Japan, where the entire scallop is prized: adductor, roe and mantle.
Michael Uehara, chief executive of Great Bear Ocean Farms in Prince Rupert, British Columbia, sells most of his live whole sea scallops to a primarily Asian clientele, who, he says, value the viscera as well as the adductors.
“Every part of the scallop is edible,” Mr. Uehara said, “and Asian populations seek it out. We pound the mantle and use it like abalone, or dry it for snacks.”
Great Bear, which will be co-owned by the Metlakatla First Nation, is one of the largest scallop farms in North America. Before the pandemic it was producing an average of half a million scallops a year, which is not nearly enough to meet the demand. Three million scallops a year is the current goal, which Mr. Uehara says the farm is on track to meet.
One reason there aren’t more scallop farms in North America is that they require a substantial investment of money and time. Scallops need about three years to reach full size. Scallop farming is also extremely labor intensive. Each bivalve must be individually pinned to a line before being suspended in the water, a process called ear-hanging that results in particularly large, well-shaped animals with a potential wholesale price of as much as $3 each when sold live.