Years ago, when I made my first trip to Cape Cod, I was looking for a good seafood restaurant to have lunch. The Cape offers so much in the way of fresh fish and seafood that it was hard to decide where and what to eat. I drove to Chatham, where you could watch the fishermen bring in their boats, so I moseyed down to the pier to see what they had caught. Lots of lobster (no surprise there), clams, striped bass and scallops. As the haul was being lifted onto dry dock, I asked one of the fishermen what was the best way to cook scallops. He gave me just a bit of a smile, pried open a scallop shell and popped the scallop into his mouth! “Fresh as you’ll ever have them,” he said. I like my scallops cooked. Buyer beware! When purchasing scallops, be sure to ask if they are dry or water injected. Dry scallops are wild, and are not soaked in phosphates to preserve them. Water-injected scallops retain water, making them heavy and costing more. This velvety tasting scallop chowder is ready in about 20 minutes.
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium white onion, diced
1 cup diced fennel
1 cup thinly sliced button mushrooms
2 tablespoons flour
1 pound large, dry sea scallops (about 15), cut into quarters
1 cup light cream
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1 cup frozen peas
1/4 cup minced parsley
1. Melt the butter in a 2-quart saucepan. Over medium heat, cook the onions and fennel until softened. Add the mushrooms, and cook them until they are soft but not brown. Sprinkle the mixture with the flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
2. Add the scallops and continue cooking over medium heat until the scallops turn white. Add the cream, milk, salt and pepper, and bring the mixture to just under a boil. Lower the heat to simmer and cook for 3 minutes. Stir in the peas and cook 2 minutes longer. Serve hot with parsley sprinkled over the top.