Finest Kind: How to Cook Nantucket Bay Scallops

Living on Nantucket Island during the off-season gives us easy access to freshly caught bay scallops, a true treasure from the sea. These sweet, delicate tidbits are delicious raw, freshly shucked. But if you prefer your Nantucket Bays cooked, here are a few of our favorite recipes to try. If you’d like to share your favorite, email the recipe to us at yi@nantucket.net

Bacon-Wrapped Bay Scallops are traditional for parties on the island. We think they make the perfect SuperBowl Treat.  Precook the bacon slightly before wrapping and broiling bay scallops so the scallops don’t get overcooked by the time the bacon is cooked.  Secure the bacon with a wooden toothpick, and broil them for just 3 or 4 minutes. Do not overcook! Fresh herbs and lemon wedges are attractive as well as a flavorful garnishes and are good on any preparation of Nantucket bay scallops.

Simple Deep Fried Scallops
This is a traditional recipe that serves 4. You can also make these in an air-fryer.
1 pound Nantucket Bay Scallops(drained if wet, juice reserved for other recipes)
1/2 cup flour (I often use Wondra flour)
1/2 teaspoon curry powder, or Old Bay
Enough vegetable oil for frying

Heat up the oil to about 350 degrees or if using a skillet, medium high heat.  Mix together the flour and seasoning, and toss the drained scallops into the flour and coat all sides well.  Shake off any excess flour, and carefully fry them in small batches, until they are crisp and golden brown- thirty seconds, to two minute for this very quick step in the recipe.  Remove from the pan to a paper towel lined warm tray, and allow them to drain momentarily before serving them hot.  Sprinkle with salt and serve immediately.

De’lices de Nantucket
Judi Hill has collaborated with Chef Pamela A. McKinstry to reprint her classic Nantucket cookbook Sconset Café, for sale now at the G.S. Hill Gallery at 40 Straight Wharf and from the Gift section of her website gshill.com. Here is one of Chef McKinstry’s recipe for bay scallops from her cookbook…

I think this is an extremely elegant and unique scallop presentation. It is time-consuming to prepare but the artichokes can be cooked in advance and reheated just before serving time. The sauce for the scallops is given a slight sweetness by the addition of Grand Marnier, a bit unorthodox maybe, but with delightful results.
6 artichokes
4 tbs. lemon juice
1 ½ Cup dry white wine
1 lb. bay scallops
2 tbs. butter
1 Cup mushrooms, sliced
salt & white pepper
2 Cups heavy cream
2 tbs. Grand Marnier or Cointreau

Cut off the stem of an artichoke level with the base. Bend the outer leaves back until they snap off close to the base. Begin at the bottom and work in a circular fashion around the globe of the artichoke. Remove several layers of leaves until the pale, inner leaves are reached. Cut off the top 2 inches of the artichoke and discard. Trim the artichoke bottom with a sharp paring knife to remove the fibrous outer skin. Rub the entire surface of the artichoke with lemon juice to prevent discoloration. Drop the bottom into a bowl of cold water acidulated with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice while you prepare the remaining artichokes.

To cook, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Drop the artichokes into the boiling water and cook for 20 – 30 minutes or until the bottoms are tender.

Drain upside down on a rack until cool enough to handle. Using a small spoon carefully scoop out the “choke” and discard. Cover the bottoms to keep them warm and set aside.

The Scallops:
Remove the hard while muscle on the side of each scallop and discard. Meanwhile, bring the white wine to a simmer in a skillet and poach the scallops for 2 minutes. Transfer the scallops to a bowl and reduce the wine in the skillet to ¼ cup.

The Mushrooms:
In a separate skillet, melt the butter and when it is bubbling, add the mushroom slices. Saute over medium heat until the mushrooms have rendered their juices and are tender. Season with salt and white pepper.

The Sauce:
Bring the heavy cream to a simmer in a medium saucepan and cook it until it is reduced in volume by half. Add the Gran Marnier and the ¼ cup of reserved wine and reduce another 10 minutes or until very thick. Stir in the mushrooms and add the drained scallops, season to taste and remove from heat.