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
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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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


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.


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.


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.

Tammi and her mother, Elaine Tammi, published a cookbook last year focused on the scallop. "Scallops: A New England Coastal Cookbook" (Pelican, $39.95) includes the history of the New England scallop industry, a primer on the biology of the scallop and dozens of recipes, including 22 from professional chefs.

The women were encouraged to write the book by the late Julia Child, who told them her favorite seafood was the scallop. (They still have a collection of letters from her advising them on how to get published.)

The Tammis and Togue Brawn have lots of tips for consumers regarding how to purchase and cook scallops at home and order them in restaurants. 


Know where to go. Karen Tammi says it does make a difference where you go to purchase your scallops -- a local seafood market or a grocery store chain.

"Some of the large supermarket chains, they try to do a good job with getting the freshest product, but sometimes they're not the diver scallops, they're not the dayboat scallops," she said. "They've been frozen and processed and thawed out from large blocks of scallops, maybe 5-pound blocks. So when you go up to the seafood area, you'll look in the case and see these scallops sitting in water."

Know the difference between wet scallops and dry scallops. Before scallops hit the display counter, sometimes they've been soaked in either water or a chemical food additive called sodium tripolyphosphate (STP). If they're sitting in a pool of milky water, chances are they've been processed with STP to increase their weight and extend their shelf life by seven to nine days so they can travel to stores across the country.

Soaked scallops don't taste dramatically different, but the extra liquid will affect how they cook in the pan. It's hard to get a nice sear on a wet scallop.

"You end up with a swollen scallop meat," Tammi said. "You're paying for that extra water weight. When that hits the hot pan or your casserole dish, heat releases that bond and the scallops will weep all that water out and make your dish very watery, and they actually poach in the liquid."

STP, by the way, is also used in processing shrimp.

Sea scallops run $15.99 to $18.99 a pound in the New England region. Brawn charges chefs $16 a pound, and $17 to $18 a pound to consumers. Diver scallops can run $35 a pound. Why pay more for added water?

"If you live near the ocean," Elaine Tammi said, "chances are you're going to get the dry scallops in a good fish market."

Don't be freaked out by color. The tastiest scallops aren't necessarily white. Consumers are used to seeing little white nuggets on their plates. But there's a lot of natural variation in the color of scallops, so you may see some at the market that have a pinkish or orangish hue. Sometimes these scallops are much sweeter than the ones that are naturally white.

The color comes from a carotenoid the scallop needs to produce its roe and feed its larvae, Brawn explained. The females accumulate it when they're filter feeding and store it in their adductor muscles -- the part of the scallop we eat.

Scallops that are pure white may have been soaked, which takes color away. Or they may look that way for a not-so-palatable reason.

"There are a few processing companies that may actually bleach that color out of them, and it's allowable to a certain extent," Karen Tammi said. "But I found that to be disgusting when I heard it." 

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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.

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Scallop and corn chowder


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