Mediterranean scallops, known in Croatian as Jakobove kapice orJakovljeve kapice, St. Jacques, kapesante, kapešante, čančule, klapunice, fans, etc., are Mediterranean clams that have tasty and tender flesh and are a speciality of top restaurants around the world, including the Adriatic coast. The west coast of Istria is especially rich with these clams, so they are a common sight on the menus of Istrian restaurants and taverns. The name of this scallop in Croatian derives from Saint James (sveti Jakov – Jakobove kapice), one of the twelve apostles, as Christian pilgrims used it as a symbol of the saint.
Mediterranean scallops are fan-like clams that can reach up to 15 centimetres in size. They are not attached to the bottom like most other molluscs; they can actually swim using a strong muscle that opens and closes their shell, so they can often be found at lower depths, hidden in the sand and silt. This strong muscle in the centre is actually the edible part of the scallop, although it isn’t eaten raw, and the shell is often used as a tool for gutting fish. Since they are difficult to find and catch, and are slow growers, Mediterranean scallops are a valuable delicacy characterised by tender flesh and a higher-than-average price. This is why special attention should be paid when buying the clam; the meat needs to be dry and firm and smell like the sea.
An especially popular method of preparing this scallop is grilling it with a bit of olive oil. Given that its flesh is delicate, it is important to prepare it with care, so that it retains its distinct flavour. Many cooks prepare the Mediterranean scallops together with the shell, sprinkled with cheese and briefly roasted in the oven, just enough for the cheese to melt and create a delicious filling. Due to their size, Mediterranean scallops are often served as appetizers, but when prepared in a sauce, they can be a part of a tasty and aromatic pasta dish served as a light lunch on a sunny summer day.