What’s wild, right off the coast of New Jersey and has nothing to do with a booze cruise?
Arguably the best scallops this side of the Atlantic, that’s what!
Barnegat Bay, New Jersey has a fin-tastic fishing scene and this past week, after a long battle with severely cold weather, a piece of the action was delivered to my doorstep.
Fresh Atlantic Bay Scallops, also known as Blue-eyed Scallops are what I consider the agile, blonde, blue-eyed spies of the bay. They’re also hermaphrodites— a perfect combination of Charlie’s Angel and James Bond. But if you imagined a two-eyed creature, you might want to add another 38 to the picture. Yes, that’s right—40 eyes! Scallops have eyes people! Am I the only one shrieking… just a teensy bit? lol Best part is, if a predator misses their flesh and snags an eye, it conveniently grows back. Creepy and amazing, yet just when you think this mollusk couldn’t be any cooler— there’s more.
Scallops rock some serious camouflage to avoid predators; their brownish top shells blend nicely with a rather muddy pad below. Although they can’t dig their way out of a bad situation like clams— their shells, along with weeds and sponges that latch on, act as major back up.
And when back up and disguises aren’t enough, that’s when scallops pull out the big guns—”jet propulsion”*.
Yup! These bad ass, lightweights can swim away from danger, thanks to warning signals set off by their blonde locks. Those tiny yellow hair-like sensors that peek out between their shells are not only beautiful, but brilliant. Scallops can rest slightly open to catch and filter food, while still being able to detect chemicals and predators.
If only humans had this gift. Picture yourself at a party, enjoying hand passed hors d’oeuvres, when suddenly your hair warns of potentially unwanted conversation or the dreaded mingler approaching. Oh the luxury…
So how exactly do these guys escape? Apparently the motion of widely opening its shell, drawing in water, and quickly clamping itself shut, seals both shells together. Thus, water is blasted out from its back hinges and “awaaaay they go”!
With the frigid winter weather we’ve had in the northeast, I was very fortunate to get my hands on these clever little animals. If you want to know how, here’s the scoop. You won’t find Barnegat Bay Scallops in stores and even nearby restaurants have limited supply. However, ShopFreshSeafood.com has them every day, so long as mother nature cooperates.
Luckily spring is on the way! For me that means new found inspiration. These scallops are so sumptuous and sophisticated by nature, I felt that only an equally interesting recipe could do them justice.
Add a little wild factor in your kitchen with this colorful and delicious seafood recipe: Scallops with Black Wild Rice, Corn, Sweet Baby Bell Peppers and Saffron Sauce! Enjoy!
*Source: Barnegat Bay Shellfish