On November 5, 2018, New York waters opened up for Peconic Bay scallop fishing. Each year, scallop season begins on the first Monday in November and ends on the last day of March. While sea scallops can be harvested year-round, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation limits fishermen to five months hunting these rarer, more savory morsels.
Peconic Bay scallops weren’t nearly as rare in the early 1980s, but several damaging algae blooms, among other factors, have greatly thinned their numbers. While their short two-year lifespan isn’t the greatest boon to their repopulation efforts, they’re status as a hermaphrodite species—possessing both male and female sex organs—allows them to reproduce with ease.
Chefs all over the East End are eagerly preparing dishes with Peconic Bay scallops while they can, because they become increasingly harder to get ahold of after New Years. Bistro Été and Almond use them for savoy dishes in the Hamptons, and North Forkers can find them at Greenport Harbor Brewery and Noah’s. But why not impress your friends and family by preparing this local delicacy on your own? Cooking scallop dishes is relatively easy and not very time-consuming, and by following Hamptonite Martha Stewart‘s recipes, the process will be a piece of crab cake.
Before you can cook Peconic Bay scallops, you need to track some down. You could apply for a permit to catch your own, but it’s exceedingly easier to just buy some from your local seafood shops. Peruse the offerings at The Seafood Shop in Wainscott (631-537-0633, theseafoodshop.com), Stuart’s Seafood Market in Amagansett (631-267-6700, stuartsseafood.com) or one of the many Citarella locations scattered across the Hamptons (citarella.com). Once you’ve got yourself some bay scallops, it’s time to cook!
The first recipe from Martha Stewart’s online treasure trove is for simple seared scallops. Simply heat in a coconut oil-coated skillet for two minutes on each side until brown. Add coarse salt, grated nutmeg and wilted lettuce and violà, tasty perfection in under five minutes. Check out the full recipe.
Next, we have a real match made in Heaven, seared scallops and garlicky pasta. Cook your favorite pasta, Stewart uses pappardelle in large pot while 2 tablespoons of oil heat in a large skillet. Stir in garlic and breadcrumbs to the oil. Cook the scallops, seasoned with salt and pepper, and then add thyme and zest. Stir in butter and lemon juice, then toss everything with the pasta. Sounds easy enough, right? It really is, and it serves four in about 20 minutes. Make sure to read the full recipe.
This next one is for chilled bay scallop ceviche. First, you’re tasked with slicing limes and collecting their juices and sections in a bowl. Add scallops, olive oil, hearts of palm to the bowl and toss. Cover and let refrigerate for at least two hours. Add avocado, cilantro, salt and pepper before serving in scallop shells—makes 24. Try your hand at the full recipe or, for even more flavor, try this variant with honeydew melon and jalapeño.