BAY SCALLOP SEASON HAS ARRIVED!
The leaves are falling, the air is chilling and it’s getting dark at 5:00 p.m. – that can only mean one thing: its bay scallop season! At London Lennies, this is our favorite time of year. Don’t get me wrong, we love scallops year-round, but bay scallops are special. They are, in our opinion, the tastiest scallops of all – so tasty, in fact, that we eat them raw right out of the bucket at the fish market. It’s the best way to check for quality and flavor before we bring them back to serve to you!
This year’s harvest is forecasted to be the best in many decades. Below are a few fun facts for you to share with your friends and family as you savor our best bay scallops yet!
What is the difference between bay scallops and sea scallops?
The main differences between bay scallops and sea scallops are their size and origin. Sea scallops are harvested from the ocean floor, mainly off of the northeastern coast of the U.S., and the eastern coast of Canada. Bay scallops, meanwhile, are harvested from the Peconic Bay of Long Island, NY, and Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket, Massachusetts. Bay scallops are also smaller than sea scallops – most range between the size of a dime and a quarter – but they do not have to be tiny to be tasty. In fact, we prefer to buy larger bay scallops because we’ve found that they get sweeter and juicer as they get bigger. I have had customers order bay scallops, see the size of ours, and assume they are sea scallops. They can’t believe they are bay scallops – until they taste them!
How are bay scallops harvested?
Bay scallops require a sea plant called Eelgrass to reproduce. Eelgrass beds only grow in shallow bays and coves, hence the name “bay” scallops. Each scallop releases “spat” (fertilized eggs) only once in their life span. This spat attaches to the eelgrass to grow a new scallop. Once bay scallops have spawned, they are ready for harvesting, but in order to see if a bay scallop has spawned, harvesters need to look for a growth line that forms on a mature scallop’s shell. This line can only be seen once a scallop has been removed from the water so, during each harvest all scallops must spend some time in the open air. Here is where weather comes into play. If the air temperature is below freezing, immature scallops can freeze before they are placed back in the water to continue their lifecycle. Hence, warmer temperatures are ideal for harvesting, which is why this bay scallop season is expected to be the best in many years. Today, most bay scallops come from Nantucket and Cape Cod, but we have seen increased harvests over the past few years from Long Island, as well.
When is bay scallop season?
Bay scallops season is strictly controlled by law. Cape Cod opens its season in mid-October, while Nantucket opens on the first business day in November. The season typically closes in late March, but last year, the season in Nantucket was extended into April for the first time in the fifty years that our family has been in the seafood business. Last year was a great year for bay scallops, although the wholesale price remained high, the quality and quantity were fantastic. This year is expected to be even better!
What is the best way to prepare bay scallops?
Simple is always best when preparing bay scallops! Often times, chefs complicate bay scallop recipes with all sorts of unnecessary ingredients that take away from the natural flavor of the scallops. At London Lennies, we pan sear our scallops with a little butter, lemon & parsley. Anything more will overpower the fantastic flavor of these morsels of the sea. Check out our video of Executive Chef Jeffrey Baruch preparing our quick and simple recipe for Nantucket bay scallops.
‘Tis the season to sear, savor and repeat!