In Season: Peconic Bay Scallops

The only time I look into a Facebook comment on email is when a familiar name comes up that posted to me. This happened on January 2, when my dear friend Cynthia Cresenzo of Westport, CT commented on Facebook with a photo of my recipe for bay scallops with honey and thyme, from my book, Savoring the Hampton: Discovering the Food and Wine of Long Island’s East End. To the beautiful photo she added this comment, “After a holiday season packed with food we wanted something delicious but light tonight. Found a great recipe in Silvia Lehrer’s cookbook Savoring the Hamptons. It was her bay scallops with honey and thyme. It cooked in less than 15 minutes and it was fantastic! What was your first meal of the New Year?”

Then to my delight, my sister, Joan Ellis Cruz of Ocean Grove, NJ, popped up on Facebook a couple of days later where she wrote, “This is my sister, Silvia Lehrer, fabulous cook and author! I’m very proud.” For your pleasure, the recipe is included below along with another quick seasonal favorite, pan-seared bay scallops with mesclun.

Our own Peconic Bay scallops are here for a brief window of time, beginning the first Monday in November. While the early season bays were more plentiful, supplies are dwindling down, according to Jimmie at Cor-J Seafood in Hampton Bays, and though the season will possibly continue into March there’s no time like the present to enjoy these candy-like gems!

Bay Scallops with Honey and Thyme

A colorful julienne of vegetables serves as backdrop for this savory bay scallop treat.

Yields 6 servings

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 carrots, scraped, trimmed and cut into short, thin strips

1 leek, trimmed, washed very well and cut into short, thin strips

1 yellow pepper, ribbed, seeded and cut into short, thin strips

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 pound bay scallops, tendons removed

2 tablespoons local honey

2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves

1/2 cup vegetable, fish or chicken stock

Warm 6 luncheon or salad-size plates in a 200-degree oven.

1. Heat oil in a 12-inch skillet and sauté the vegetables for 5 to 6 minutes until they have a slight crunch. Season vegetables with salt and pepper to taste. Divide evenly on warm plates.

2. Melt butter in the same skillet until the butter browns slightly. Be careful not to burn the butter. Add the scallops and sauté over medium-high heat for 1 1/2 minutes total, turning once. With a slotted spoon divide scallops equally over the vegetables.

3. Add honey and thyme to the pan the scallops cooked in, and stir to deglaze pan juices. Add stock, salt and freshly ground pepper, bring to a boil over high heat and stir to mix. Reduce liquid by one-third. Drizzle sauce over the scallops and serve at once.

Side note: The bay scallop season is officially underway, with many clamoring for the smaller-than-a-penny scallops from Peconic Bay on the eastern end of Long Island. Of the varied species along the Eastern seaboard it has been documented that none can compare to the delectably sweet Peconic Bay scallop.

Reprinted from Silvia Lehrer’s Savoring the Hamptons: Discovering the Food and Wine of Long Island’s East End.

Pan Seared Bay Scallops with Mesclun

These tiny jewels cook very quickly. Be sure to spread your serving dishes on the counter and arrange your greens before you begin to cook the scallops.

Serves 4 to 6 as salad course

1 1/2 to 2 cups mesclun, washed and spin-dried

3/4 to 1 pound bay scallops, tendons removed

2 to 3 tablespoons canola oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

2 to 3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves

2 1/to 3 tablespoons lemon juice

Sea salt finish for added crunch and flavor

1. Divide and center greens on 4 to 6 plates, divided equally.

2. Preheat bare cast-iron skillet for about 10 minutes (until white hot). Pour oil into skillet and add the scallops without crowding the pan. With tongs move them to the opposite end of the skillet and season with a spray of salt and pepper. Turn scallops one at a time, moving them again to the opposite side of the skillet. They will totally cook in about 1 1/2 minutes to a golden brown. As they are done, arrange scallops over greens, divided equally. Continue to cook remaining scallops in the same manner.

3. Pour off excess fat in the skillet, reduce heat to medium and add the butter. Heat until butter is bubbling and when the froth turns brown put in the thyme and lemon juice. Stir to mix and spoon the foaming liquid over the scallops and greens. Add a light sprinkle of sea salt from up on high and serve at once.

Amagansett Sea Salt Company’s products are available locally at Stuarts Seafood Market, Old Stone Market in Springs, Wölffer Estate Vineyard in Sagaponack, Channing Daughters in Bridgehampton and online at amagansettseasalt.com.

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