Worth shelling out for



Lemon juice and zest provide an acidic accent that cuts the richness of the scallops. The butter and high baking temperature produce a golden crust. PHOTO BY CHERYL WIXSON
Lemon juice and zest provide an acidic accent that cuts the richness of the scallops. The butter and high baking temperature produce a golden crust. PHOTO BY CHERYL WIXSON

Now that the Maine scallop season is here, we’re enjoying our fill of these luscious bivalves.

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 1 pound yielding four servings.

To defrost, simply shift 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 the harvest took place 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 more than 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 such as steamed broccoli or sauteed greens, roasted butternut squash, and applesauce. Good Maine food never goes out of style.

Cheryl Wixson lives and cooks in Stonington. She welcomes food-related questions and comments at [email protected].

 Lemon Baked Maine Scallops

This recipe is adapted from a dish prepared at Pilot’s Grill, one of Bangor’s former, favorite old-time restaurants. It makes 4 rich and generous servings

 1 lb. Maine sea scallops

¼ cup fresh bread or cracker crumbs

2 Tbsps. fresh lemon juice

1 Tbsp. finely grated lemon zest

2 Tbsps. chopped fresh herbs (parsley & rosemary)

1 Tbsp. melted butter

Sea salt and fresh pepper

Dry white wine to poach the scallops in

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Grease a baking dish that can comfortably hold the scallops.

Using the fine side of the grater, grate the lemon zest, setting it aside. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice. In a small bowl, mix together the breadcrumbs, lemon juice, lemon zest, melted butter and fresh herbs.

Lay the scallops in the baking dish and sprinkle with sea salt and fresh pepper. Sprinkle the crumb mixture evenly over the top of the scallops. Pour just enough white wine in the pan to cover the bottom.

Bake the scallops in the oven until they have just turned opaque, about 10 to 12 minutes. (This will vary depending upon the thickness of the scallops.) Serve with a lemon wedge.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 177 calories, 19 grams protein, 8 grams carbohydrates, 7 grams fat, 560 mg. sodium, 1 gram fiber.

 

Cheryl Wixson
"Maine Dish" columnist Cheryl Wixson lives and cooks in Stonington. Her passion for organic Maine products led to the creation of her business, Cheryl Wixson's Kitchen. She welcomes food-related questions and comments at [email protected] or www.cherylwixsonskitchen.com.

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