My history with scallops dates back to my mamman’s, my favorite were her Coquille St. Jacques. They were out of this world!
As a youngster I overindulged in one night … well, I will spare you the details (you’re welcome J).
Wondering why the East End harvest seemed so extra good this year, I had two conversations about the jewels of Peconic Bay. One with Charlie Manwaring of Southold Fish Market fame (he’s really a local celebrity) and another with Dr. Stephen Tettelbach, a professor at Long Island University who has been working with Cornell Cooperative Extension for over 25 years.
Charlie filled me in on his take on this stellar scallop year.
“Mother nature was really good to us this year. Last winter was exceptionally cold and this summer was cool. There wasn’t much rain. It seems as though everything aligned just right to make this a banner year,” Charlie told me. “There are scallops everywhere, including areas in which there haven’t been scallops in 15 to 20 years.”
Charlie also mentioned that a seaweed known as “Spaghetti Grass” helped protect them from predators.
“It’s amazing to see this many scallops from Flanders to Montauk,” he said. “Hallock’s Bay had more than they have in the last 5 to 6 years.”
I also had the great pleasure of speaking with Dr. Tettelbach, who said Cornell’s restoration work from 2006 helped jump start the growth of Peconic Bay scallop population.
“It has helped transform the low levels to today’s current level size and density,” he said. “The number of scallops far exceeds what was planted. Mother nature has taken over. ”
There were 13 years of a low population, he told me. You don’t truly know until the fall what will be there — that’s part of the mystery. The harvest goes until the end of March, so hopefully this bounty will continue for 2015.
A couple of note worthy factors these scallop experts shared with me:
A pretty good percentage of the adult scallop harvest was the result of a late fall spawn. Based on diver surveys of Peconic Bay 10 to 15% of this year’s harvest is the result of last year’s late fall spawn.
The scallops usually spawn in June, but when they spawn later, there are less predators around. And there wasn’t a die off similar to that of 2012-13.
So, there you have it! Enjoy those scallops, as all of your favorite local eateries have them and they are awesome!
Ok, one last thing. Let’s talk about Turducken, that dish made of a deboned chicken stuffed in a deboned duck, which is then stuffed into the cavity of a turkey. I’m not sure what to think. I will be trying it this Turkey Day as it certainly sounds like a winning protein trio to me. Thank you to Wendy, my trusty assistant for this suggestion.
For you foodies, Lombardi’s Love Lane Market is taking custom turducken Thanksgiving (and more traditional meats) orders just for you! Call (631) 298-9500 to order.