Peconic Bay Scallops

Photo: Kang Kim for New York Magazine. Illustrations by John Burgoyne

G eorge W. Bush, as recently revealed, may like his scallops about as much as his dad likes broccoli, but perhaps that’s because he’s never had the pleasure of tucking into a plateful of the Peconic Bay variety. Much smaller and sweeter than sea scallops, these succulent specimens, when exceptionally fresh, are good enough to eat raw. They’re equally delicious sautéed and tossed with an invigorating citrus dressing, as in the following recipe from Savoy chef Matt Weingarten. Look for them at Greenmarket’s PE & DD Seafood, but act fast: Their relative scarcity, combined with un-Bushian demand, means their season is short.

Matt Weingarten’s Pan-Roasted Peconic Bay Scallops With Citrus Dressing
2 lemons
1 sprig thyme
1 orange
1/2 cup fruity extra-virgin olive oil
Canola oil
1 lb. cleaned Peconic Bay scallops
Salt and pepper
2 large heads cleaned frisée
1 cup parsley leaves
1/4 cup sunflower seeds

For the dressing: Zest one lemon. Pick the leaves off the thyme sprig. Juice both lemons and the orange and whisk together with the zest, the thyme leaves, and olive oil in a bowl. Set aside.

For the scallops: Place a large skillet over high heat. Add a bit of canola oil to the pan. Lightly season the scallops with salt and cracked pepper and add half of them to the hot pan. Allow the scallops to caramelize by not moving the pan for 30 seconds or so, then lightly shake for 15 to 20 seconds longer. Remove from the pan and set aside. Repeat with the second half of the scallops and then place all of the scallops in the bowl with your dressing, the frisée, parsley leaves, and sunflower seeds. Coat everything well with the dressing and serve. Yield: six appetizer portions.

Note: Scallops are almost always sold shucked, but should you ever encounter one in its shell, here’s what to do: Hold the scallop in your left hand, with the dark side up and the hinge facing away from you. (1) Using a small knife, insert the blade at the hinge and slide it along the inside of the top shell, cutting through the muscle but not the familiar creamy white adductor muscle (the part you want to eat) and detaching it from the shell. Discard the top shell and (2) with the tip of the knife and your thumb or finger, gently pull the “veil,” or mantle, plus assorted guts and the 50 or so beady little eyes over and away from the adductor muscle. (3) Then cut the adductor muscle free from the bottom of the shell.

Peconic Bay Scallops