The Simple Art of Cooking: Peconic Bay Scallops

Bay scallops prepared by caterer Tim Burke Productions.
Bay scallops prepared by caterer Tim Burke Productions. Photo credit: Richard Lewin

I can hardly wait for the bay scallop season, which traditionally begins the first Monday in November. When I checked in with Jim Cornesi of Cor-J Seafood in Hampton Bays several weeks ago, he was cautious as to the availability and quality of the bays as it would take a week or longer after the season begins to determine the outcome.

Yes we do have bay scallops on the East End with reports that are somewhat mixed on how good the crop is or if the availability will last the season. In a good year, the season can go into March. But there is optimism and boats are going out for bay scallops in Shinnecock and Peconic Bay. If our local bays don’t go the season, I’m told that bay scallops will be available from Nantucket and Cape Cod as the season progresses.

The delectable, sweet-as-candy bays are a special treat and looking good at our local fishmongers. These treats will cost you anywhere from $20 to $30 a pound, but a little can go a long way. One pound can feed up to six people in a salad with radicchio and leek deliciously dressed with balsamic vinaigrette. An inspired sauté of bay scallops can be prepared in a matter of minutes – just prep the few ingredients ahead, and voilà, another treat for the short season that we have them. [expand]




Mise en place is the way to go – bay scallops cook in a flash!

Serves 4


1 pound bay scallops, side muscle removed

1 container mache (microgreens) washed and spin-dried

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Grated lemon rind plus 2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 to 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley


1. Refrigerate scallops, covered with a moistened towel, until ready to use (cook within a day of purchase). Have remaining ingredients prepped and ready to cook.


2. Melt butter in a 10 to 12-inch heavy skillet and when butter foam subsides and butter is starting to color, quickly add scallops in one layer and sauté for 40 to 45 seconds, turning once. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add grated lemon rind and juice and toss through the scallops. Remove from heat, sprinkle with parsley and serve at once over a bed of mache, divided equally on serving plates.



Balsamic vinegar infuses tang and rich color to the fragrant sauce for this simple-to-prepare salad.

Serves 4 to 6


1 pound Peconic Bay scallops

1 small head radicchio, trimmed and carefully washed

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup finely chopped shallots

2 to 3 leeks, trimmed, carefully washed and julienned

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons unsalted butter


1. Remove tough muscle from side of scallops and discard. Rinse scallops quickly and pat dry with paper towels.


2. Arrange radicchio leaves on warm, not hot, plates.


3. Warm olive oil in a large skillet and add shallots and leek julienne. Toss to coat and sauté briefly over medium heat, about 1 to 2 minutes. Leek should be slightly crisp. Sprinkle mixture with salt and pepper. Transfer equal amounts to plates with radicchio.


4. Add scallops to the skillet and sauté quickly, barely 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper and toss to mix. Arrange scallops evenly over radicchio leaves. Add balsamic vinegar to the skillet and bring to a boil. Swirl the butter through the pan juices and season lightly with salt and pepper, as necessary. Spoon the thickened juices over the scallops and serve immediately.


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