Chef – Nantucket Bay Scallop Season Opens November 1st
Bay scallops were not always considered a delicacy. In fact, in the early 1800s, they were used as bait for cod-fishing. It wasn’t until later in the 19th century that they became popular, and islanders quickly realized Nantucket was surrounded by a valuable commodity, literally waiting each season to be scooped off the bottom, shipped to the mainland and sold at a premium.
Many of the Island’s long-time commercial scallopers follow a family tradition passed down from generation to generation. Scallopers’ lives are by no means easy. They rise before dawn to be on the water by 6:30 a.m. between November and March (unless the temperature drops below 28 degrees or the wind is howling). They set out in small, open-decked boats, frequently alone, or with just a partner to help them haul their dredges. Locating scallops requires an intimate knowledge of the complex, ever-changing contours of the harbor floor, though most have never seen it. There’s also the risk of snagging another scalloper’s dredge, a costly and time-consuming setback. Commercial scallopers haul their catch from the bottom with dredges dragged behind their boats. “It’s very complex. There is so much to it with the natural changes in each season. November fishing is very different from March fishing,” said Marina Finch, who got her start with long-time scalloper Neil Cocker. In a banner year they are often back at the dock and enjoying a cup of coffee by 9 a.m., secure in the knowledge that they’ve just brought in several hundred dollars worth of succulent shellfish. Once the scallop boat is back at the dock, the scallops, still in their shells, are brought ashore and taken to a shucking shanty, where they wait to be opened. With three quick flicks of a knife blade, veteran shuckers open the shells and separate the meat. It’s a repetitive job, but the best shuckers can go through thousands of shellfish a day. And the industry couldn’t survive without them.
Captain Jeff Henderson of the F/V Miss Alice has been fishing the Nantucket Harbor and surrounding scallop grounds for decades. Over the years he has developed an almost uncanny knack to always locate these succulent bivalves regardless of the conditions. Jeff works with 15 other boats and skippers during the course of the Season to provide SeafoodS.com with “Nannys” direct from his “Scallop Shanty” to your guests plates within 24 hours from live shuck.
Nantucket bay scallops are harvested by fishermen in small boats from the shores and bays of Nantucket Island using hand dredges. Scallops are landed live, taken ashore and immediately shucked, often by the fishermen themselves in dockside shucking shanties. Fishing for bays can be restrictive: besides heavy winds and ice that can keep the boats tied, fishermen are actually forbidden from harvest if the air temperature is lower than 28°F before 10 AM. Because the water is warmer than the air, scallops will die immediately once dredged, killing both undersized juveniles who would be cast back along with the marketable catch. And although the season is opened until March, it is not uncommon for fishermen to stop fishing altogether once the harbor freezes up entirely, sometimes as early as the first week of January. Nantucket Bay scallops are smaller than sea scallops, and are about the tip of the thumb once shucked (60-80 per lb or 60-80 count). The meat itself is the abductor muscle of the scallop, and has a sweet, mild taste that is unequalled anywhere. Nantucket Bays are especially sought after because of their ability to be served raw when fresh, and at their ability to caramelize beautifully when put to heat. Super fresh Nantucket bay scallops can and SHOULD be enjoyed raw. Some sushi connoisseurs swear that the scallop is the greatest raw bar selection. Otherwise, bay scallops are preferred in ceviche dishes or are baked with herbs, wrapped in bacon, skewered and grilled, or battered and deep-fried or lightly pan-seared until the edges are a crispy brown. Simply one of the best treats that the ocean can offer.
Nantucket Bay Scallop Season Opens November 1st
Call SeafoodS.com for to secure your first run.
Josh Adams : 704-769-2260
Josh Bogen: 704-769-2261
Mike Casagrande: 704-769-2263
Karen Harmon: 704-769-2262
Jon Flower – 704-769-2258
Patrick Lowder: 704-769-2265
Chris Nelson: 704-769-2256
Brad Rosa: 704-413-3267