Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Maryland: Crab Cakes And Football...And Scallops?

If you are from the MD area, the name Ocean City conjures up images of sandy beaches, cold beverages, and probably some hazy memories of youthful stupor.  It most likely doesn't at all say fresh, gourmet scallops, but since you are probably past the age of overindulging in the nectar of the gods, it might be time you looked to the local summer stomping ground as the source of your next great meal.  For a short time during the next month, some of the freshest, finest quality scallops will be coming out of Ocean City Maryland.

Okay, so the scallops are not harvested from beaches of bathing beauties with rigs working between boogie boarders and popsicle vendors, but they are harvested pretty close.  These local bivalves are actually wild harvested in an area called "Elephant's Trunk" which is located 45 miles due east of Ocean City.  Catching them is up to Captain Derrick of the 45 foot fishing vessel "Second To None".  To accomplish this he drags a 12 foot turtle dredge on the sea floor in water that is about 200 to 300 feet deep.  He does this for about 30 minutes, then dumps his load on board and shucks and ices the product right away.  Each scallop is plump and meaty and there are about 13 shucked scallops in a pound.  He may do another one or two 30 minute run before he is done for the day.  The scallops are unloaded in West Ocean City, MD and make it to the market less than 24 hours out of the water.  If you are still doing the math, that's fresh, dry scallops on your plate in less than 36 hours.  I am not sure you could catch them yourself and have them ready for dinner in that amount of time.

These scallops will be one of the freshest local ingredients you will get your hands on this summer.  They are unadulterated, completely dry, completely fresh and are some of the sweetest meats you will ever taste out of the ocean.  As with all good things, though, these scallops will be limited.  The season is set by quota and each vessel can only harvest 600 lbs a trip.  Most likely the total quota will be met by the end of this month or early June.  If you are at a restaurant and they are offered on the menu, order them.  You might be surprised by what's been hiding in plain sight.  You think you know a place like Ocean City, and then you find out that, behind all the heart stopping fried baskets and soggy hotdogs, a very delicious resource has gone ignored.  Well, at least, unheralded.  Maryland does crab like no one else, and if you didn't know now you do, scallops too.

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