Gloucester Day Boat Scallops On The Grill

grilled scallops

With the pandemic still affecting everyday life, I’ve been finding a bit of nostalgic comfort heading down Fisherman’s Wharf Gloucester to pick up fresh seafood. Although the contact-less drive up service is totally new, heading down the wharf, any wharf takes me back.

In the early 80’s I remember my dad, long before he was the Striper King, coming home from a trip offshore with a bucket of scallops. I should clarify that they were sea scallops, we didn’t get bay scallops, and after not seeing him for days I hung out as he shucked the bucket of them for dinner that night.

10/20 sea scallops

I must have been seven and I was amazed that some of these had little fish trapped inside the shells. It’s one of those memories that comes back sometimes, beyond usual recollection. Reminding that you, and all your friends and family from our special place called Gloucester, have memories just like this. We have been so lucky to share in a wealth that in the words of Captain John Smith is “greater than gold” – New England seafood.

Several Gloucester seafood processors and wharves are now offering fish, scallops and lobsters for retail and it’s been a huge morale boost. It’s not exactly the old days of free fish, but the prices are untouchable, there is plenty for everyone and the quality…let’s just say we are still completely spoiled.

The recent purchases of haddock, grey sole and lobster have been amazingly good. The last item to try that has been regularly featured are the scallops. I rarely eat scallops, but when I do, I eat a lot of them.

Sea scallops, whether baked with crumbs, fried like clams, pan-seared, or grilled, are comfort food, Gloucester style. But just like the recent steamed lobster, nobody in my house will eat scallops so I get to eat an entire pound of fresh caught, day-boat scallops…for fifteen bucks!

About Gloucester Sea Scallops

scallops on skewers

The sea scallops I got from Fisherman’s Wharf Gloucester were harvested in federal waters within the Gulf of Maine. These are day boat scallops, brought in by local vessels that have a 200lb per day quota.

Naturally, they were “dry” scallops, never soaked or treated with STPP after being shucked. They are of the 10/20 size, which means you will get between 10-20 scallops per pound. This particular pound of scallops came out to a 15-count.

The only other time I’ve cooked scallops for this site I baked them with crumbs, this time that was not an option because my “vintage” or should I say antique, GE Range finally burned out the oven heating element after about 38 years. I was about to pan sear these beauties in some butter and olive oil, before I realized I have an unused indoor grill waiting to be tested.

I’ve cooked a really good steak and some veggies on a previous model of these indoor smokeless grills, but not seafood. I recently got new version but I assume that it is still not exactly smokeless, but smoke…less. Sort of like that old saying about stainless steel. Either way I was eager to try out both the grill and the scallops.

The Recipe: Grilled Gloucester Scallops With Citrus Marinade

  • 1lb Sea Scallops (dry, untreated)
  • 1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Lemon, juice and zest
  • 1 Lime, juice and zest
  • 1 Clove Garlic
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Wooden skewers (optional)

Procedure:

marinating scallops

Make a citrus vinaigrette marinade by making a 3:1 ratio of olive oil to lemon/lime juices, zest, garlic, salt and pepper. The amount of citrus depends upon the fruit, in my case I used the zest of lemon and lime but the lemon was so juicy that I only needed half. You can whisk the ingredients but it’s easier to shake them together in a small jam-sized mason jar. Prepare the scallops by patting them dry, seasoning with salt and pepper and letting them marinate for about 15 minutes, but not more than 20.

Note: Most recipes call for removing the tougher muscle attached to scallops. Maybe it’s because I only deal with the freshest scallops, I don’t bother. The chewy texture of this piece of scallop don’t bother me and besides…it’s product weight you paid for. Unless you are going to save those scraps for stock, just eat them, they taste fine.

Remove scallops, pat dry and discard the marinade. Place scallops on the preheated, oiled grill and cook each side until they have a nice char, about 2 minutes. Or, like me, use wooden skewers to make scallop kabobs, which make turning the scallops much easier.

I was leery about marinating the scallops too long, so I went on the short side. Grill worked great and after 2 minutes per side (I should’ve paid more attention to how I placed them on the skewer – d’oh) they were rare, but done. I prefer scallops that are almost raw, but warm in the middle. I was worried about smoking up the house, but there was hardly any in such a short cooking time. Next time, I will try it on the hottest setting for better grill marks.

The Verdict On Grilled Gloucester Sea Scallops

grilling scallops

They were sooo good, scallops don’t need much and the marinade gave just enough of a citrus kick. It is a luxury to eat so many scallops for such a low price. For $15 you are lucky to get an appetizer with more than 3 scallops. I had an entire pound to myself all the while supporting my local fishing fleet.

When it comes to food nothing makes me happier than when I know my money is going right back to those who are harvesting. When it comes to fishing, with all the inherent risks, it is all the more poignant. Eating local seafood never made more sense than now. Not only are we filling a vacuum in the typical demand, many are now realizing the best seafood in the world is not imported.

For many consumers, even those who grew up in fishing communities, it can be daunting to drive down to a commercial wharf and ask about getting seafood. Having the industry reach out to make it more approachable will hopefully have positive repercussions that last beyond this crisis. I won’t mind at all if I can still get all this great seafood via drive-thru in that “new normal” they keep talking about…

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