Shucking Treats from Island Waters
Bay scallops, the filet mignon of shellfish, were once an important species for commercial fishermen from Cape Cod clear south to New Jersey. Today, their range is much reduced - the only places where they are still harvested in any numbers are Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket.
A Treat From the Sea
Scallop season generally runs from autumn through the heart of winter. A hardy fleet of commercial fishermen works the ponds and coastal inlets of Martha's Vineyard in sturdy working boats, dragging nets full of scallops from the bottom and swiftly sorting them on culling boards, throwing the undersized shellfish back and keeping the mature ones. But if you're up early enough you might also see folks scalloping along the shore, dressed in high boots and heavy sweaters. Still, it can be cold hard cold, hard work...but oh, so worth it!
Shucking Scallops 101
Harvesting The Bay Scallop, A Rare Delicacy
Scallops are short-lived creatures, living just under two years, which means they're only harvestable for a single season. Still, Island town laws prevent fishermen from going out for scallops when the temperature falls below 28 degrees Fahrenheit, because exposure to the cold air can kill the immature shellfish before they can be thrown back.
Shucking Scallops Does Have Its Rewards
Gourmet treats they may be, but ease of preparation makes the scallop every cook's best friend. By the time scallops reach the fish market or restaurant table, the work of shucking them has already been done. Anyone who's spent a few tedious hours shucking scallops knows that for a delicious protein boost, you can flick that morsel of muscle straight into your mouth for the freshest bit of sushi anywhere.
Sweet, Succulent, So Keep It Simple, Scallops
Need scallop recipes? We'd suggest that with a food this tasty, the less fuss, the better. Scallops make great hors d'oeuvres simply speared with toothpicks and broiled briefly in the oven (actually broil first, then spear, or your toothpicks could catch fire!). Or, for a main dish, sauté in a bit of white wine and butter, and top with finely minced basil.
But the best recipe is really no recipe at all: remove excess moisture from the scallops by tamping with a paper towel. Dredge in flour but shake well to remove any excess until only the sheerest film of flour remains; heat butter in a fry pan and saute oh so breifly until a light brown crust begins to form, shake the pan once or twice to reorganize the position of the scallops. The whole process shouldn't take more than 3 minutes tops.
Article By Nis Kildegaard