Friday, November 6, 2009

Scallop Season on the East End...Short and Sweet

Photo (Lexi Van de Walle): Peconic Bay Scallops -- fresh, briny and sweet.
Scallop season opened earlier this week in Southampton and although the season is short (November to March) it's no surprise that this year's harvest is really SWEET!

This year, I recommend that whenever you can get your hands on freshly harvested local bay scallops grab them. There is nothing like the sweet, briny, fresh flavor of Long Island bay scallops. On the East End, Peconic and Shinnecock Bays are always great. At $25-30 per pound retail, for me they fall into the "treat category" but I'll be sure to get some soon (and often).

Hamptons.com had an article about opening day 2009 on today's site, "Scallop Season Opens To High Hopes And Low Yield" . The piece does a good job covering the local and state politics surrounding the shellfish season on the East End and need for the Town of Southampton's Trustees to intervene and ensure proper reseeding of scallop beds every year.

According to the article, yields were low last week -- with some Hamptons baymen getting only 6 of the 10 bushels allowed by the Town ordinance -- but the baymen are optimistic about the balance of the season as there appear to be a lot of seed scallops lying on the bottom and which are well-protected for the winter months under blankets of eel grass.

I prefer my scallops plain and with a side of local history. You?
Bon Appetit!

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RECIPE - reprint from Nov. 2008
Peconic Bay Scallops - Simple Saute

1 pound LOCAL, PECONIC BAY scallops
3 tablespoons butter
Lemon slices

NOTE: Pat scallops dry to remove excess moisture and cook in batches of about 1/3 of a pound so the pan is not crowded and the scallops brown.
For tender scallops do not over cook. Overcooked scallops are rubbery.

1. Heat a large heavy skillet on high heat and melt one tablespoon of butter.
2. Add one third of the scallops and cook over high heat until brown, or about 3 minutes.
3. Turn browned scallops over and continue cooking until still slightly uncooked in the middle, about 2 additional minutes.
Store slightly undercooked scallops on a plate and cover with foil (they will continue to cook under the foil). Repeat until all three batches are cooked. Toss all the scallops back in for a minute to finish cooking and heat through.

Serve immediately with slices of lemon. Serve over rice.

HISTORY - reprint from Nov. 2008
Scallops on Long Island

In the 1980s, Long Island's Peconic Bay experienced a brown tide algae bloom which devastated and nearly wiped out the shellfish from this brackish water estuary. With extensive marine management and reseeding programs over the past two decades, Long Island's famous oysters, clams and scallops have made a modestsl comeback with annual estimates in the 3,000-30,000 pound range or a fraction of the 1980s levels of nearly a half a million pounds of scallops. According to Riverhead's News-Review on Nov. 13, 2008
In 1982, the harvest of 500,000 pounds of bay scallops from the Peconic estuary accounted for 28 percent of all U.S. commercial landings and had a dockside value of $1.8 million.... After the appearance of the brown tide in 1985, the bay scallop population was virtually eliminated. And the commercial shellfishing industry in the Peconics nearly collapsed.


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