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bay scallop preps, please

It's teeny bay scallop season here in coastal Mass., and time for our annual splurge. At almost $30/lb, yes, we usually only have once a year! We usually broil simply with cracker crumbs and butter, serve with lemon. Too cold now for ceviche, I think. But I'd love to know what other hounds do with them.

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  1. I get the frozen ones at $5.99 a pound. What I have always done is put the thawed scallops in a pot of cold water, turn the burner on to medium, when the water starts to boil they are done, eat them with cocktail sauce. Sometimes I will melt swiss cheese on top of them, cheese and shellfish is a weird combination but it tastes good.

    10 Replies
    1. re: redfish62

      I dont even think I can manage a reply.

      1. re: foodieX2

        I guess throwing the scallops in a pot of water doesn't really count as a recipe, unless you a guy.

        1. re: redfish62

          No its the act of taking something as gorgeous as a local bay scallop and boiling them! And then covering them with cheese.....

          As my grandmother alwasy said tho. "To each his own"

          :)

          1. re: foodieX2

            No if the water comes to a boil they are overcooked, the method is to remove them from the water the instant it begins to boil, an easy way to avoid overcooking them.

            1. re: redfish62

              the cheap ones are usually chinese bay scallops -- not even remotely similar to nantucket bays. the former are like rubber bands that happen to come from the sea. the new england bay scallops are tiny nuggets of ambrosia with a very limited season.

              no matter what the weather, i prefer them raw, sliced, even with a splash of yuzu juice. caviar over top is lovely too.

              1. re: hotoynoodle

                The "cheap" ones around here are more likely to be Florida "Calicos" than Chinese imports.

                1. re: Bacardi1

                  Of Patagonian scallops like the ones Publix sells

              2. re: redfish62

                I'm also a bit taken aback at your suggestion for cooking scallops of this quality this way, but it doesn't surprise me. Many people don't have experience as to how to cook scallops and other seafood..

                One of my good friends, who likes to cook but didn't grow up eating seafood, was here for a quick dinner before a show and I did mussels. He was panicked about the curtain time when I didn't start cooking the mussels in time to get to the show. Mussels into the pot, served 5 minutes later, and he thought I was going to poison him. He said he cooks mussels in a big pot of boiling water and cooked them for 20 minutes. Not sure how he would ever want a mussel again, but I did make a convert.

              3. re: foodieX2

                Actually, quickly blanching or "poaching" bay scallops (in white wine - not water) is a classic prerequisite to Julia Child's wonderful "Coquilles St. Jacques" recipe - something I make every year for Bastille Day. It's delicious, & the scallops are decidedly NOT overcooked.

                It's all in the handling - poaching seafood doesn't automatically mean overcooking or turning the contents into rubber.

                1. re: Bacardi1

                  Yes but that is not what he was talking about. He was talking about taking frozen scallops, adding to cold water and bringing the water to boil. Ugh. Bay scallops are quite small and very tender. Most people recommend barely cooking them at all. Even removing them as soon as the water boils (as he noted later) will result in watery overcooked boiled scallops.

                  A quick blanch in white wine that is not. Coquilles St Jaques that is not.

                  As an aside, when living on the Vineyard and having a ready supply of bay scallops for either free or very cheap when in season I often made Coquilles St Jaques. Delicious! Might be worth the OP trying that.

                  However now that I live off island (and no longer have a fisherman BF, LOL) I don't get them very often. At $20-$30lb I prefer to enjoy them simply.

        2. It is sacrilege to cook those lovely morsels much more than what you mentioned.

          My ideal way is to get my well seasoned cast iron pan *really* hot, add a little bit of butter, maybe a spray of oil. Add scallops, sear one side, then the other. I don't think they spend more than a minute or two in the pan. Sprinkle with a little salt, maybe some really old balsamic and that’s it. Heaven

          (and even better is my husband doesn’t eat shellfish so they are all for meeeeeeee!)

          1. As a warning I should state that this is an old, tired, boring recipe that uses butter and is not inventive..you know, there's no pop or zing to it. I have used it for 45 years and got it from the lamented Locke-Ober in Boston. Cover scallops with seasoned flour, shake off thoroughly. Cook very quickly in skillet using a good oil. Doesn't take very long. Remove to a hot plate in oven. Throw out oil, wipe down skillet, melt butter..add some lemon and salt/pepper, add sherry. Locke's didn't do this but I put scallops over wild rice and dump the sauce on it. I have varyed it with some bacon and or capers.

            2 Replies
            1. re: hazelhurst

              I would make a ceviche or serve them as sashimi, but would also consider cooking them as follows: heat unsalted butter in a pan, toss in finely chopped garlic, a pinch of salt and cracked black pepper and cook for a minute. Add scallops and a splash of white wine. Raise heat and burn off alcohol. Serve, with a sprinkle of chopped fresh flat leaf parsley and a good crusty baguette, sourdough or other bread. A wedge of lemon is nice too. Do not overcook!!! I would personally just barely cook them. They are so sweet and tender and overcooking would be a tragedy.

              1. re: hazelhurst

                My wife prepares scallops pretty much the same way, She flours the scallops and sautees them in a little mixture of olive oil and butter until the flour starts to tan, removes them from the pan and deglazes the pan with a little dry sherry and bottled water (no chlorine), and serves them over linguini with the pan juices atop.

              2. The simpler the better. No seasoning other than salt and maybe a splash of lemon juice. Pan seared or broiled, briefly. But best of all, raw- right out of the container. No ceviche, no wasabi, no nothing!

                1. I quickly broil or pan-sear in copious amounts of butter, make Julia Child's "Coquilles St. Jacques" recipe (in scallop shells, of course - lol!), or sometimes - if I can find them on sale - add to mixed seafood chowders &/or stews.

                  1. Once a year I will deep fry the bay scallops. SOO good. I do like the occasional deep fried item but only if I do it at home with decent oil. The oil used in restaurants is just way too communal for my tastes.

                    1. Interesting thread. The only bay scallops I ever see here in the midwest are with phosphates, and wet as all get out, so I rarely buy them. Although I can find "dry pack" sea scallops, thank God.

                      At $30 a pound, I imagine your bay scallops are not treated with phosphates. In that case, my first move would be to deep fry them after a light seasoned flour dredge. Broiling would also be a technique to consider, with Asian or other flavors. Yum!

                      1. This is great, thanks everyone. Yes, these are indeed a different thing altogether from the unfortunately frozen or mass-processed variety. I guess I have years' worth of proposals here!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Splendid Spatula

                          Just picked up a pound of Peconics locally, and here is what I will do (as always): heat cast iron skillet on medium for about 10 minutes til smoking hot. Meanwhile dredge scallops quickly with wondra, old bay and cajun seasoning; add oil to cover bottom of pan, quickly sear in batches and season with salt and pepper. You will cook a minute or less each batch. Remove to plate covered with mesclun.

                          Add half stick of butter to pan and melt til brown. Add some lemon juice and thyme to butter then pour over scallops and serve immediately.

                          I am looking forward to dinnner more than I can say!