Just in time for the winter weather, this month’s Right Bite recipe is for creamy farmed bay scallop chowder. The main ingredient, farmed bay scallops (Argopecten irradians), is on Shedd’s "best choice list" for sustainable seafood because it is harvested with suspended nets. This is a more ecofriendly process than scooping scallops from the sea floor, because it does not disturb bottom-dwelling organisms or accidentally catch other animals like fish and turtles.  

The majority of farmed scallops are a "best choice" not only for their sustainable farmed techniques, but also because scallops are filter feeders that live on tiny particles in the seawater. Bay scallops actually help improve water quality and clarity!

Make the “best choice” by choosing farmed bay scallops over wild-caught. Check out the farmed bay scallop recipe below:

(Fun Fact: Scallops have up to 40 bright blue eyes along the margin of their shell that are used to detect shadow and movement.)

step by step picturesCreamy Farmed Bay Scallop Chowder 
Serves 4–6

Ingredients
1 pound bay scallops
3 strips bacon
1 tablespoon butter
4 tablespoons flour
1 small onion, chopped
2 cups chopped carrots
2 cups chopped celery
2 cups chopped unpeeled red potatoes
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup half-and-half or heavy cream
2 sprigs fresh thyme or sage, finely chopped
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
1 bay leaf
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions
1. Cut bacon into ½ pieces, then cook in a large enameled cast iron pot until browned and most of fat has rendered. 
2. Remove bacon to a paper towel to cool. Keep about 3 tablespoons of rendered bacon grease in the pan. 
3. Add flour; stir and cook over medium heat to make a roux. 
4. When roux is light brown in color, turn heat up to medium-high and add vegetables and butter to the pot.
5. Add herbs, cayenne, bay leaf and season with salt and pepper, stirring frequently for 5 minutes or until vegetables are slightly softened. 
6. Add chicken stock and half-and-half to the pot. Simmer on medium-low heat until soup is thickened and vegetables are cooked, about 20 to 30 minutes. 
7. Add scallops to the pot and simmer until scallops are cooked, about 5 minutes. 
8. Ladle into bowls and top with crumbled bacon.

Enjoy!
 

Kara Kotwas, Shedd Aquarium’s Right Bite team