Edibles - Gorgeous and scrumptious

By Laura Wainwright - December 20, 2007

Of all the edible bounties of this remarkable Island, bay scallops may be the richest prize. I can't think of anything better than opening a scallop on the boat, fresh off the culling board, and downing it raw with a sip of cold beer. Not all of us are lucky enough to be able to collect our own with a family permit but fortunately we can buy bay scallops fresh from the seafood shops. The price of $18 per pound is high, but well worth it. I find a pound feeds four people amply.

Scalloping is hard work. My husband fished commercially for several seasons in the early 80s and I know how physically demanding it is. Pulling up the scallops from the ponds (often on a freezing cold morning) is only the beginning. Then comes the really hard work. Standing and shucking each bivalve until your bushel baskets are empty. Crack the knife through the muscle, open the shell, peel off the intestines to reveal the small prize. Cut it out, drop it in your bucket. Start again. Each and every scallop we enjoy has been carefully collected and opened by hand.

Donny Maciel
Donny Maciel at Cape Poge. Photo by Danielle Zerbonne. Click photo for larger version.

Cooking bay scallops is the easiest part. By the time you have a pound at home, all the hard work has been done. Now you just need to be careful not to overcook them. It makes them tough. As I cook them, I watch the color. When they are opaque they are done.

Scallops are versatile. I often broil them or make them into a simple oil and garlic pasta sauce. Their flavor is delicate and the meat is rich, so I try to keep preparation simple.

Here is an easy recipe my friend Ettie Luckey invented the other day. She served it in on a bed of warm barley. Quinoa or brown rice would probably also work well. The textures of the barley, zucchini, and scallops go well together as do the colors. It's pretty to look at and scrumptious eating. Total cooking time is under ten minutes.

Ettie's Bay Scallops on a Bed of Grated Zucchini

Serves four

1 pound bay scallops
3 medium zucchini
3 medium yellow squash

Grate the zucchini and squash by hand or with a food processor. Put it in a bowl and season to taste with coarse salt and pepper. Sprinkle with a little good quality olive oil. Let this sit for half an hour up to four hours at room temperature.

In a large skillet heat up 1 Tbs. olive oil and 1-2 Tbs. butter.
Add grated zucchini/squash to pan with a slotted spoon, draining off excess liquid.
Sauté a few minutes. Stir gently.
Place scallops on top and let cook 3-5 minutes, stirring gently, until scallops are no longer translucent but opaque.
Serve immediately with the barley.

Laura Wainwright is a contributing writer to The Times.