Tis the Season for Shellfish
Pumpkins, root vegetables, hearty soups, and fallen leaves: all the markings of fall we love. At Samuels, we like to add one more thing to the list of fall favorites: shellfish. For many fishing communities, fall also marks the beginning of some the most cherished shellfish season openings. For those of you who wait eagerly all year for Stone Crab Season to open, you know what we’re talking about, but these molting crustaceans aren’t the only ones to look forward to this time of year.
Atlantic Bay Scallops
The season for one of the most highly sought after species of scallops begins in late autumn. Atlantic Bay Scallops are found and produced in Nantucket Bay, Cape Cod and Peconic Bay. The most famous of these prized shellfish, the Nantucket Bays, can be sold commercially starting November 1st. Before this date, fishermen start harvesting for locals beginning in mid-October. These tender, sweet scallops are shucked live and are so fresh that you can eat them raw. Taylor Bays are a cultured Cape Cod Bay Scallop that is available live in its shell, which makes for a beautiful presentation. Many chefs like to use Atlantic Bay Scallops in simple preparations, but their sweetness pairs well with lots of fall flavors. Atlantic Bay Scallops can be enjoyed all winter long as the season usually lasts until the onset of spring.
Arctic Wedge Clam
Mid October marks the start of the Arctic Wedge Clam Season. Also known as butter clams, they are harvested by hand in Quebec, Canada. Its grayish white, oblong shell can reach up to 4cm. What makes this clam unique is that the sweet, plump meat fills the entire shell and doesn’t shrink once cooked. These clams are less salty than their counterparts, which makes them more versatile in the kitchen. They can be steamed, prepared in a pasta dish, or eaten raw. The season generally last until the end of December, weather permitting.
Florida Stone Crab Claws
October 15th for Florida natives signifies the beginning of Stone Crab Claw Season. Locals kick off the start of the season with Stone Crab Claw eating festivals before they are commercially sold. People love stone crab claws not just for their taste, but also for their sustainable nature. After the crabs are harvested with baited traps and their claws are removed, they undergo a molting process that allows their appendage to regenerate. The claws must be of a certain size to harvest and egg bearing females cannot be declawed. Many like to serve this shellfish delicacy with a side of mustard lime sauce. Stone Crab Claw lovers get to enjoy them until the season closes on May 15th.
Remember the old saying, “Don’t eat oysters during the months that don’t contain the letter R”? Although advanced aquaculture systems and modern technology have made oysters safe and tasty to eat year round, there is still some truth to that old saying. In colder months, nutrient dense water from the bottom of the ocean rises as the colder surface water sinks. This dispersion of nutrients and minerals allows ocean life to thrive and grow. Oysters also spawn in the summertime, causing them to lose some of their body mass. This means that during the cooler months, oysters are fuller and especially flavorful. The environment that nurtures the oyster plays a major part in developing its taste. We suggest trying as many as you can, pairing each oyster with a simple mignonette sauce to really bring out its characteristics. The variety we have now didn’t exist years ago, so take advantage!
Make sure to check our Daily Shellfish Update to learn about more of our seasonal shellfish options!