It’s Scallop Season!
I love bay scallops. Correct pronunciation “skawllop”. Don’t let anyone tell you different.
Scallops are a fall and winter crop, which means they don’t get gobbled up over the summer. Right when the people who live here get to take a breath, and life starts to slow, we can go scalloping. Bay scallops are small and sweet. Like little pieces of candy. They are a completely different experience than sea scallops. There are only a few places they live in this world and even fewer places you can harvest them. Fortunately, Martha’s Vineyard is one of those special places.
There are two ways to harvest scallops. The first is what the commercial guys do. They drag a metal net type thing called a “drag” (I know original) from a boat, it picks up all the scallops and the smaller things fall through the net. They then have a sorting board on the boat, which is like a big table with open sides, where they pick out the adult scallops and slide all the other stuff out the side back into the water. It’s done in the deeper water and you need a boat. Some families with boats do it this way.
The second way is for most people who have a family license but no boat and what I did this weekend. At low tide you go out in the salt water ponds in your waders or if your brave, without the waders. I don the waders. It keeps the crabs away from my toes.
You tote along your peep sight, net, and basket.
While wading around you look through the peep sight at the pond floor. The scallops sit on top of the mud in little divits they dig out for themselves. For disguise they grow algae on the top side. Also called the dirty side. We will need that info later. You then scoop them up with the net. This is what the hunt looks like but it’s not me.
It can also look like this if you end up too deep or your short. Also not me. But I have been known to be short. So usually, I am in this position.
It’s so peaceful out there. The oystercatchers, terns, and other shore birds fly about talking to each other. The sea breeze lightly blows and sun shines (most of the time). The view through the peep sight is a view on a whole different world. There’s baby flounder and cod, minnows, blue crabs, pink crabs, hermit crabs, algae and seaweeds, baby whelks and little baby scallops. Pinks, reds, and greens. It’s gives me time to think and appreciate the world around me. I stayed out there four hours. With a calm mind and an exhausted body I headed home with only half a basket. Not a big harvest, but a good morning.
I was going to show you how to shuck. But, thought otherwise. It’s not for the queasy. So I will tell you and show you the end bit that’s pretty clean. I take the scallop in my left hand with the dirty side up. See I told you to remember. The dirty side is the flatter side. With my right hand I slide the shucking knife in the gap near the hinge and slide it along the top inside of the shell to separate the muscle. I then remove the top shell and then the guts.
The finished product.
I rewarded myself for the hard day with scallops wrapped in bacon over rice. There was enough raw ones left to share some with Granma and to freeze some for later. Sorry there’s no pictures of dinner. But, I was so excited, I ate them as soon as they came out of the oven.