The thumb-sized treasure is showing up on local menus in late November, early December, and our hungry hound visited one restaurant in Evanston, where they currently feature them in a special appetizer.
They are no bigger than the average adult thumb. Nantucket Bay scallops are finding their way into kitchens this time of year, notably at Quince Restaurant at the Homestead, just East of downtown Evanston, where they appear in a special appetizer.
''So the fisherman hand harvest them and shell them, shuck them," said Quince chef Andy Motto.
That's part of the reason they're pricey; they also need to be cleaned by hand, just a brief wash in salt water to remove any grit. Then into a hot pan with a bit of canola oil, until they're caramelized.
''Just showing the quick caramelization of how sweet the scallop is itself, just simply with salt and pepper really,'' said Motto.
Dried on paper towels, Motto brushes them with a soy-citrus zest-yuzu-ponzu-hoisin-garlic sauce, then arranges them on a plate, surrounding some Asian greens wrapped in a thin cucumber. He adds some finely-chopped Fresno chilies for mild heat, then grates a bit of fresh citrus zest over everything, to brighten it up - starting with lemon, then orange, and finally lime. The final flourish, a bit of young coconut and chamomile foam.
''And we like to serve that with a cucumber roll for some crispy, fresh, bright, acidic, sweet/savory texture, crunch to the dish,'' said Motto.
As Motto said, the season is short so you gotta get out now if you want to try these Nantucket Bay scallops, and remember Quince is only for dinner, not lunch.
Quince Restaurant at the Homestead
1625 Hinman Avenue