Spotlight: Maine Dayboat Scallops

Spotlight: Maine Dayboat Scallops

Mark Murrell

In the winter, the Gulf of Maine yields a truly amazing gift: the Maine Sea Scallop. Beginning in December, local scallopers take to the water to harvest the freshest scallops available anywhere in the nation – and very likely in the world. Available only from December until fishery closures in March or April, these seasonal beauties command a premium price and the fishermen can barely keep up with demand.

Why are these Maine scallops so coveted? Because there is nothing like a fresh sea scallop coming straight from their cold-water sea beds. In the winter, scallops migrate inshore to feed in our clean bay waters, where they become plump and succulent. Here along our Maine coastline they are harvested in the morning and brought to market the same day. When harvested by drag by fishing vessels who fish and return the same day, they are sold as “Dayboat” scallops. Even rarer, some are caught by scuba divers who harvest them by hand in the shallows – and are sold as true “Diver Scallops”. Whatever the method used, these scallops are shucked and sold in the same day, the ultimate in pristine freshness with a natural, sweet flavor some (described them “nature’s candy) that should always taste “like a bite of the sea”.

Scallops swim using an abductor muscle that clicks its two shells together and pushes it through the water - it is this meaty muscle that when shucked we know as the “scallop” on the plate. All Maine scallops are “dry packed”, meaning no soaked preservatives or extra water are added to them. Scallops of this quality will often be so firm that they will seemingly “stand” when placed uncooked on the pan. The best scallops will even seemingly react with a “shiver” when flicked by a finger – an indicator that it is so fresh there is still enough residual oxygen in the scallop muscle to react to contact.

The result of this freshness gives them the optimal sear in the pan, unmatched by any scallop on the market. We love them lightly seared with no sauce to experience their unadulterated sweet clean flavor, but are they are also outstanding in a multitude of other preparations. Dayboats/divers fish this Maine catch only seasonally and daily supply can fluctuate in availability due to severe weather, commercial demands, or fishery management closures. These are the ULTIMATE in sea scallops, and a pride of our Maine fishing community. Experience them while you can!

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