Lately I’ve rediscovered scallops. I knew them during my childhood, but through most of my life, they have been rare. Because the fishery has been unstable and threatened for so many years, I have usually avoided buying them, even on the rare occasions when they show up at the seafood market.
Here I’m referring to bay scallops, which are found along the mid-atlantic and southeastern coast. Bay scallops are a mollusk about the size of silver dollar. When cleaned, most of the scallop is discarded. The only edible parts are two white muscles, found on either side, that close the halves of the shell (the reason they are called bivalves). And edible they are…panned in butter, there is no delicacy on earth any finer.
This and the fact that they are an easy target has been their undoing. I can remember as a child wading out into shallow saltwater grass beds and simply picking them up. Overfishing was a problem even then and seasonal restrictions with heavy fines were already in place.
Bay scallops are also a favorite food of skates (coastal relative of the stingray). After the movie Jaws, sharks became overfished, and since sharks are the primary predator for skates, decline in sharks led to an abundance of skates. Skates put added pressure to a fishery that was already in distress.
Fortunately, strict regulations on both the scallops and sharks has allowed the fishery to rebound somewhat. Bay scallops are starting to show up at seafood markets during certain times of the year, but they are still relatively uncommon and pricy.
My rediscovery, however has not been with bay scallops, but their distant cousin, the sea scallop. Sea scallops are found offshore in deeper waters off the northeastern coast. They are more abundant and less accessible, so the fishery has remained relatively stable. In recent years, fresh sea scallops have been showing up regularly in seafood markets across the country. My research suggests that the fishery is being properly managed, so I don’t feel guilty about enjoying them on occasion.
The product finished for market is white morsel of muscle about the size of a golf ball. It looks the same as a bay scallop, but larger in size. Sea scallops are not quite as sweet as bay scallops, but combined with just the right seasonings, they are still wonderfully tasty.
Tasty and nutritious, the tender morsels of white meat are an excellent source of quality protein. Scallops are also a good source of vitamin B12 and iodine. Iodine is a vital nutrient that most people do not get enough of.
Sea Scallop Salad
Scallops can be enjoyed in a variety of ways, but this recipe is one of my favorites.
½ – 1 lb. sea or bay scallops
spring onions, sliced
naval orange, peeled and cut up into chunks
ripe avocado, cut up into small chunks or squares
romaine lettuce, washed and sliced cross-sectionally
fresh cilantro leaves, minced
sesame oil (olive oil or other can be substituted)
soy sauce, a good splash
honey, a drizzle
rice vinegar, a good splash
sea salt, to taste
paprika, a good shake
On low heat, pour a pool of sesame oil into a medium to large saute pan (depending on how many people you are cooking for).
Add the scallops, spring onions, cilantro, soy sauce, honey, rice vinegar, salt, and paprika.
Saute until the scallops shrink in size. This will only take 5 minutes or so.
Cover while cooking. You may have to drain some water off.
Stir in the romaine lettuce and pieces of orange.
Stir around in the pan until the lettuce just starts to wilt, but still has a good crunch to it.
Stir in the chunks of avocado.
Baked acorn squash makes a nice side dish.
1. Featured Image Source