As the Peconic Bay scallop season opened Monday on Long Island’s North Fork, dozens of boats converged on a cove to dredge for the coveted shellfish. They included commercial and recreational fishermen who customize their boats in all manner of styles, such as the one above. Most boats pull four or more dredges over the bottom, scooping up the scallops. I joined them, as I do most years, and we were rewarded with a bountiful catch (at least on this first day) and gorgeous Indian-summer weather. Although the water had dipped to 48 degrees, the air temperature was in the mid-60s.
Scalloping is all about finding the sweet spots that hold the greatest clusters. On one haul, my dredge was loaded with more than 40 of them.
After a couple of hours or so, I approached a half-bushel, the daily recreational limit.
Shelling and cleaning them is a time-consuming and messy business …
… but well worth it. I wound up with about two-and-a-half pounds of scallops, enough for several great meals based around the sweet delicacy, which, when I checked, was selling for $17 a pound at one of the local fish markets. I like to sauté them in a little olive oil and butter until golden brown; perhaps another night I’ll combine them with tomatoes and some fresh tarragon over pasta. As for wine, white Burgundy or subtly oaked chardonnay from California or Long Island’s North Fork come to mind to complement the richness of the scallops. What would you serve?