Bay Scallops from Nantucket

(Argopecten irradians): WILD

From Cape Cod Bay to Long Island Sound are some of the finest bay scallops in the world – and none are more coveted than those that come from Nantucket Island. The cool waters of Nantucket Sound are perfect for bay scallops, which use the native inshore eelgrass as both a nursery and cover from predators and hard surf. While local Nantucketers can enjoy first harvest in October, the commercial harvest season opens November 1st and runs through March.

Nantucket bay scallops are harvested by fishermen in small boats from the shores and bays of Nantucket Island using hand dredges. Scallops are landed live, taken ashore and immediately shucked, often by the fishermen themselves in dockside shucking shanties. Fishing for bays can be restrictive: besides heavy winds and ice that can keep the boats tied, fishermen are actually forbidden from harvest if the air temperature is lower than 28°F before 10 AM. Because the water is warmer than the air, scallops will die immediately once dredged, killing both undersized juveniles who would be cast back along with the marketable catch. And although the season is opened until March, it is not uncommon for fishermen to stop fishing altogether once the harbor freezes up entirely, sometimes as early as the first week of January.

Nantucket Bay scallops are smaller than sea scallops, and are about the tip of the thumb once shucked (60-100 per lb or 60-100 count). The meat itself is the abductor muscle of the scallop, and has a sweet, mild taste that is unequalled anywhere. Nantucket Bays are especially sought after because of their ability to be served raw when fresh, and at their ability to caramelize beautifully when put to heat.

Super fresh Nantucket bay scallops, as available through Browne Trading Co., can be enjoyed raw. Some sushi connoisseurs swear that the scallop is the greatest raw bar selection. Otherwise, bay scallops are preferred in ceviche dishes or are baked with herbs, wrapped in bacon, skewered and grilled, or battered and deep-fried or lightly pan-seared until the edges are a crispy brown. Simply one of the best treats that the ocean can offer.

Catch Region: Nantucket Island, MA

Seasonality: Typically Season Runs November 1 to March 31

Catch Method: Hand Dredged

Meat: Actually Abductor Muscle, raw flesh should be creamy to pink, elastic to touch

Flavor Profile: Mild and Sweet

Texture Profile: Firm and Moist


  • Sea Scallops