Dried scallops in Cantonese cuisine
This is an essential pantry ingredient in Cantonese households for two main reasons.
First, it's a seafood ingredient, and Cantonese cuisine loves its seafood! It's flavorful and kind of briny, and the umami flavor is very concentrated.
Secondly, because it's dried, it has a fantastic shelf life. You can keep it in the fridge for a pretty long time. Some people say they're good for several months, and some people say that dried scallops keep for 2 years in the fridge. Use your best judgment and toss out any suspicious pieces with weird discoloration or unusual texture.
Dried scallops will last even longer in the freezer, which is where my parents store theirs.
Are my dried scallops okay?
It's not unusual to see a dry, white, powdery coating on dried scallops. This powdery coating is typically excess salt from the normal processing of dried scallops. Sometimes, dried scallops that are older will develop more of this white powder over time if they dehydrate further in storage.
If there's anything fuzzy, and definitely if there's discoloration that's not white, then it's not salt, and it's probably mold. Be safe and discard dried scallops with that kind of discoloration.
It's really important to keep dried ingredients like dried scallops and dried mushrooms... well, dry. Store them in a dry, sealed container, away from sunlight. If you have an extra silica packet that can help absorb moisture, you can drop it into the container as an extra precaution.