December 26, 2012

Soup to Nuts: Briny goodness

'Tis the season -- fresh Maine scallop season, that is -- so support your local fisherman and indulge.

By Meredith Goad mgoad@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

PORTLAND - Togue Brawn is on a mission -- a mission to get you to eat more fresh Maine sea scallops.

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The fishing boats Bossy Lady (foreground), the First Edition and the DDT II prepare their catches of scallops harvested from the waters off Blue Hill.

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Scallops from the Blue Hill area have been particularly orange this season.

Additional Photos Below

A SCALLOP CELEBRATION

KAREN TAMMI AND ELAINE TAMMI, authors of "Scallops: A New England Coastal Cookbook," come to Maine on April 3 to teach a demonstration class at the Stonewall Kitchen Cooking School, 2 Stonewall Lane, York. "A Celebration of Sea Scallops: Maine Diver and Dayboat Scallops" costs $50 and will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Call (877) 899-8363 for reservations.

Here's the menu for the class:

"Maine dayboat sea scallops in their shells with herb and saffron butter"

"Seared Maine diver scallops atop mesclun greens with smoked bacon and honey mustard dressing"

"Sandy Neck shrimp and scallops au gratin baked in wine and garlic butter topped with panko bread crumbs"

"Scallop shell sugar cookies with vanilla ice cream and warm caramel sauce

Recipes from 'the scallop queen' and her mom

"Karin Tammi and Elaine Tammi's cookbook, "Scallops: A New England Coastal Cookbook," contains recipes for dishes ranging from scallop springrolls and scallop pot pie to scallop fritters with chipotle mayonnaise.

Here, they share two of their favorite crowd pleasers for winter gatherings: Prosciutto-wrapped scallops that are perfect as either an appetizer or an entree, and a scallop and corn chowder they often serve at appearances. The prosciutto-wrapped scallops are the creation of Martha's Vineyard chef Lindsey Henderson.

SCALLOP AND CORN CHOWDER

Serves 4-6

¾ pound red potatoes cut into ½-inch cubes

2 cups water

3 tablespoons butter

1 cup chopped leeks

1 cup chopped celery

1 cup half and half

2 cups fresh corn or frozen whole kernel corn, thawed and drained

1 pound sea scallops cut in half horizontally

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Pat of butter, optional

Paprika, optional

Combine potatoes and water in a medium bowl. Set aside.

Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a large stock pot over medium heat. Add leeks and celery; saute 5 minutes until tender.

Add potatoes and water to a large stock pot, bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 12 minutes or just until potatoes are tender.

Stir in half and half and corn. Cover and cook over medium heat 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Add scallops. Season with salt and black pepper, cook 3 minutes. Ladle into soup bowls. Stir a pat of butter into each bowl. Sprinkle with paprika. Serve immediately.

From "Scallops: A New England Coastal Cookbook" by Elaine Tammi and Karin A. Tammi, © Elaine Tammi and Karin A. Tammi, used by permission of the publisher, Pelican Publishing Co. Inc.

PROSCIUTTO WRAPPED SCALLOPS

Serves 1

To serve as an appetizer, use two scallops per person. For an entree, use five or six scallops per person.

2 large sea scallops, trimmed, rinsed and patted dry

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

salt and freshly ground pepper

2 pieces thinly sliced prosciutto (per person)

Add scallops to a bowl and pour in just enough olive oil to lightly coat the scallops. Add a splash of balsamic vinegar. Season with salt and pepper and toss together. Lay out thin strips of prosciutto and cut to appropriate size to wrap the scallops.Wrap up the scallops and use a little olive oil to keep the prosciutto from unwrapping. This can be done ahead of time and kept refrigerated. You can use a barbecuing grill, saute pan, cast iron pan with raised ridges or indoor grill to cook the scallops. When the cooking surface is very hot, grill the scallops until done, brushing with a little of the marinade. Scallops will be opaque on the ends when done. Do not overcook. Serve.

From "Scallops: A New England Coastal Cookbook" by Elaine Tammi and Karin A. Tammi, © Elaine Tammi and Karin A. Tammi, used by permission of the publisher, Pelican Publishing Co. Inc.

Sea scallops are so delicious, Brawn and other scallop experts say, that fishermen always claim they are best eaten raw, right on the boat.

"When you have a really, really fresh scallop, it has an ocean flavor," Brawn said. "When it's raw, it has a really good texture, and it doesn't have a fishy flavor at all. Scallops in general, relative to other seafood, are mild, but Maine scallops particularly are very mild. It's almost a shame to cook them because they're so good raw."

Or cooked in butter with a quick pan sear, just enough to caramelize the surface and barely cook the center through.

Brawn is a former resource management coordinator for the Maine Department of Marine Resources who believes in the product so much she became a scallop dealer. As owner of Maine Dayboat Scallops Inc., she buys sea scallops from local fishermen and sells them to Rosemont Market and restaurants such as Miyake, Yosaku, The Grill Room, The Corner Room and The Front Room.

The Maine scallop season is short -- it started in early December and will end in early March -- so consumers should take advantage of it while they can, happy in the knowledge that every time they serve the shellfish this winter, they will be helping out a struggling fishery and Maine fishing families.

The scallop fishery in the Gulf of Maine tends to go through booms and busts, and it is currently recovering from a big bust.

"It boomed in the '90s and a lot of people got into it, and it got overfished," Brawn said. "The fishery collapsed, and it stayed low for a long time."

Scallops are found all along Maine's coast, but at least three-quarters of the state's harvest comes from Washington and Hancock counties. The Maine grounds were closed for three years while fishermen and managers worked together to come up with a plan to build it into a more sustainable fishery. This winter, the closed areas have opened again for the first time, but with limited access and rotation schedules similar to crop rotation on a farm.

The New England scallop fishery in general is doing well. After federal fishing grounds offshore were closed down to protect groundfish, scallops rebounded quickly -- so quickly that sea scallop landings in New Bedford, Mass., recently reached $450 million, according to Karin Tammi, a Rhode Island marine biologist whose students call her "The Scallop Queen."

Brawn thinks if Maine scallops are managed well, they could eventually could bring in tens of millions of dollars to the economies of the state's coastal communities. "There's a lot of room, I think, to really brand Maine scallops because we do have something different," she said.

Maine scallops are so fresh you can flick them and they move, nerves still firing. While scallops caught in federal waters are often on the boat for 10 days, Maine dayboat scallops are landed the same day they are caught and can be on the plate within a day or two.

"It doesn't matter if it's caught by a diver or a dragger," Brawn said. "If it's caught by a Maine fisherman, it's a dayboat product and it's going to be superior to something from the federal fishery."

Tammi thinks that New England scallops, no matter where or how they were harvested, could become the next premium seafood product shipped to Asia and other markets around the world.

"I think our New England product is so good," she said, "whether it's the bay scallop or sea scallop, we should really be embracing this as a prime product, like a lobster."

(Continued on page 2)

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Additional Photos

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One of Togue Brawn’s favorite scallop preparations calls for a sauce that’s two parts butter and one part honey.

Photo courtesy of Togue Brawn

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Prosciutto-wrapped scallops

Photos from “Scallops: A New England Coastal Cookbook” by Elaine Tammi and Karin A. Tammi, © Elaine Tammi and Karin A. Tammi, used by permission of the publisher, Pelican Publishing Co. Inc.

click image to enlarge

Scallop and corn chowder

  


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