Editor's Note: This piece on cooking bay scallops originally appeared as a sidebar with Cathy Walthers article, "Did You Ever Go Scalloping On a Cold, Cold Day?"


The bay scallop, like shrimp, 
is one of those ingredients that 
marries well with a variety of 
flavors and ingredients. It can also be prepared many different ways, but chefs agree that cooking should be quick.
Jackson Kenworth, chef and owner of The Sweet Life Café in Oak Bluffs, likes to contrast scallops with salty and acidic ingredients, such as an appetizer he does at the restaurant of pan-roasted bay scallops with wilted arugula, roasted tomatoes, and aged 
“Bay scallops are like little sugar cubes,” he says. “The acidity of the tomato, the sweetness of the scallop, and aged balsamic pair very well.” Kenworth has also served bay scallops over cauliflower purée with a 
bit of truffle oil, and garnished with roasted capers, slivered almonds, 
and a little wilted spinach.
Bay scallops taste great with herbs, including basil, lemongrass, chives, cilantro, dill, thyme, and mint. Culinary Artistry, a cookbook listing ingredients and foods that go best with each one, offers these ingredients that pair well with scallops: brandy, brown butter, caviar, curry, garlic, ginger, fennel, leek, pumpkin, saffron, salsa, vanilla, vermouth, cider vinegar, and white wine.
Like acidic tomatoes or balsamic,  lemon, lime, or orange provides a wonderful counterpoint to bay scallops. Robin Forte, chef of Theo’s at The Inn at Blueberry Hill in Chil-mark, serves scallops with a pink grapefruit beurre blanc. The sauce is a reduction of white wine and shallots to which fresh grape-fruit juice 
is added and then reduced again. 
Finally, some butter is whisked in. It’s served over a melted leek risotto. At home, Forte says she and her 
husband like to make a linguine with clam sauce, but replace the clams with scallops.
Joe DaSilva, chef at Lambert’s Cove Country Inn in West Tisbury, agrees that citrus is the best bet with bay scallops, or any scallop. “Scallops are rich, so you want to break that richness by adding citrus.” He describes a dish with roasted red and yellow baby beets, roasted shallots, bay scallops, and a citrus reduction. To make the citrus sauce, simmer the juice of one orange, one grapefruit, and one lime until reduced by about two-thirds. Whisk in a tablespoon 
of butter. The beets, placed in the 
center of the plate, are roasted and then warmed in olive oil and fresh thyme. “Beets are good because they have earthiness and the scallops are sweet,” explains DaSilva.
While scallops can be broiled, deep fried, or even served ceviche-style (“cooked” in lime juice), most chefs agree bay scallops taste best quickly sautéed in a hot pan. It’s the “absolute best” way of cooking the bay scallop, says Kenworth. “It brings out the sugar and doesn’t take long.”
“With the bay scallop, the less cooking you do the better,” says 
Forte. “You need to sear them quickly 
in a hot pan with a little butter and salt. You can’t exaggerate how quickly they need to be cooked.”

Bay scallop recipes:

Bay Scallops with Butternut and Basil Sauce

Simple Sautéed Bay Scallops with Lemon-Orange Butter Pan Sauce

Scallop Ceviche