November 1st marked the opening of the Nantucket Bay Scallop fishery and, for most of you, that's all I really need to report. Nantucket scallops, lovingly referred to as "nanny bays," are an incomparable balanced bite of natural sugar and brine. It's as if nature performed some sorcery in her mad lab, developing a perfect morsel that man has never improved upon. Seriously, when people ask me how I cook my nanny bays I usually simply deadpan, "I don't." I find the best way to enjoy them is to simply pop them in your mouth and savor all the goodness of what some call the candy of the sea. If pressed though, I would have to recommend a quick, and I really must stress quick, saute in butter with a finish of sea salt.
High winds marked the beginning of the season, preventing some scallopers from going out. This caused already high prices to be exorbitant at the start of the season, but I expect the initial tsunami of demand to ease back into a more traditional rough tide and prices should come back into this stratosphere by the end of the week. Let's not mince words here, Nantucket Bay scallops won't ever be a cost effective item on your home menu due to their popularity and short season, but this year is predicted to be better than last so we could see some improvement at the cash register. BlackSalt will have its first shipment in this week and we could see product until late December or January, depending on weather. When temperatures become too cold that scallops die once brought out of the water, the fishery closes. Though the season technically goes until March, there are often many closures during that period making supplies tight and prices spike.
Bay scallops are also being harvested from areas such as Martha's Vineyard, MA and Peconic Bay, NY. These notable varieties are very tasty and slightly less expensive than the nanny's and, depending on where you are from, there is also a debatable difference in sweetness. Most people outside of Long Island hold Nantucket Bay scallops in the highest regard, a bay scallop above all, while everyone off the Long Island Expressway will tell you that Peconic Bays are the Yankees of the scallop industry. All have their merits and all three varieties of these scallops, when in season and fresh, are some of the best seafood items you can enjoy. There is, however, only one Nantucket Bay. It's just something in the water there that produces that sweetest, most delectable scallop in the world without rival.