Now that the Maine scallop season is here, we’re enjoying our fill of these luscious bi-valves. Fresh scallops will keep for several days in the refrigerator, and they freeze extremely well. We like to package and freeze them in meal-size portions; 4 ounces for a single serving, 8 ounces for two people, and one pound yielding four servings. To defrost, simply remove the package from the freezer to the refrigerator the day before use. In a pinch, I will often defrost a package in warm water until soft.
Scallops can be ivory, cream, or even slightly orange or gray in color, with a fresh, sweet smell. Scallops labeled as “dayboat,” “dive,” or “diver” indicate harvest in state waters, and therefore should only be available fresh during the state scallop season, typically December into April.
Old-time Maine cookbooks have many recipes for scallop preparation: Scallop Saute Montauk, Scallop Casserole, Downeast Scallops (made with canned tomato soup and green olives), Scallop Stew and Scallop Fritters. From the wealth of recipes, it’s clear that fishing has been an established part of Maine’s heritage and an important food source for over 400 years.
The recipe for Lemon Baked Maine Sea Scallops is a classic: simple, low in fat, and delicious. The lemon juice and zest provide a nice punch of acidity to cut the richness of the scallops, the wine poaches them perfectly, and the butter and high baking temperature provide a golden crust. To complete your meal, serve with a green vegetable like steamed broccoli or sauted greens, roasted butternut squash, and applesauce. Good Maine food never goes out of style.