The ocean is a long way from us in Chicago, so geography can make me feel removed from all the fuss over saltwater delicacies that are at their peak.
What Are Bay Scallops?
At the grocery last week I spotted Nantucket Bay scallops on special at the fish counter.
From November to March, these scallops, smaller than their seafaring cousins, are at their best. They are caught by hand in cold shallow water. Their small size is one of the things that make them special.
My husband is from the East Coast, so he is very familiar with them.
Because of that and our travels to Massachusetts to see family, I have gotten hooked on them, too.
Most of the time, seafood prep is best kept simple.
Fish often has a mild flavor. To stay true to it, I like to treat it with an amount of respect and restraint. Why hide what makes it so good?
This is what you need for this bay scallops recipe:
Bay scallops: These are smaller than sea scallops.
Olive oil: The scallops cook in a combination of olive oil and butter.
Butter: I use butter and olive oil for the richness and taste.
Shallots: Minced shallots add onion and garlic flavor.
White wine: Make sure to use dry white wine.
Salt & pepper: The scallops are seasoned with just salt and pepper.
Parsley: When the scallops are finished, I sprinkle them with chopped parsley.
Lemon wedges: Serve the scallops with lemon wedges, so then you can squeeze them with fresh lemon juice.
How To Cook Nantucket Bay Scallops
First, I pat the scallops dry with a paper towel.
Then I heat a combination of olive oil and butter in a skillet over medium heat.
Next, I sauté chopped shallots letting them soften before adding a splash of white wine.
The wine bubbles away giving the shallots some acidity that balances out the butter and oil.
After that I put the scallops in the skillet browning them on each side. It is important not to crowd the pan.
They finish cooking in a few minutes.
Before serving, I top the scallops with chopped parsley and lemon juice.
What To Serve With Bay Scallops
These Nantucket Bay scallops serve 2 to 4 people as an appetizer.
If you want to stretch this into more than a starter, I recommend pairing it with some sort of rice dish to turn it into a main dish.
I think an oven-baked risotto is a fantastic option that is very easy and hands-off to make. Or I love serving orzo or farro with scallops too:
With shallots, white wine and lemon juice, Nantucket bay scallops are a quick and easy appetizer. They cook in minutes to a perfect golden brown.
3/4 pound Nantucket Bay scallops
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 shallot, minced
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
2–4 lemon wedges
Pat the scallops dry with a paper towel.
Heat the olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Once the butter has melted, sauté the shallots until they have softened, about 2 minutes. Add the wine and continue cooking until the liquid has reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle in the salt.
Place the scallops in the skillet making sure not to overcrowd them. Cook for 1-2 minutes per side until browned and opaque.
Toss the scallops with parsley and a squeeze of lemon juice before serving.
You can serve the scallops with risotto, orzo or rice in order to turn it into a main dish.