Fun Day On The Gulf Of Mexico - New Horizons in the Kitchen Blog at - 303195

New Horizons in the Kitchen

Fun Day on the Gulf of Mexico 
May 23, 2013 2:15 pm 
Updated: May 30, 2013 5:12 am

Sargento recently inspired me to think about one of “Life’s Little Moments.”  There is something that we do during the summer that came to mind, and that’s scalloping.  Admittedly, it’s a Florida thing, and I know many of you are saying “what the heck is that?”  Well, it’s all about spending a day on the Gulf of Mexico harvesting those succulent and expensive bay scallops you see at the fish market.  The next thing I considered was how to create a recipe based on that little moment, and that’s how Cheesy Tarragon Bay Scallops evolved.

I’m what many call a “Florida semi-native.”  I wasn’t born here, but I’ve lived here long enough that I now consider myself a “native.”  And I do love living here.  Undoubtedly, the beautiful weather and beaches are an attraction for most of us.  Some people can’t make it through a day without throwing a fishing pole in the water.  Others want to take in the beauty of the water by boat.  And some folks just want to spend every waking moment at the beach taking in the sun, shelling, or just splashing around in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico.  

Beautiful Gulf of Mexico

Our annual scallop trek has become tradition for us, usually heading out with two other couples for just one day.  Bay scallops can be recreationally harvested in the Gulf of Mexico state waters, and the season runs for three months, July through September.  The Gulf of Mexico temperature is in the 80’s at that time, and when the sun is out, even a dip in that warm water will cool you down.

The first thing you have to do is get a Florida Recreational Saltwater Fishing License which is no big deal.  Next thing you need to do is get some equipment...mask, snorkel, fins, and a big bucket to hold your scallops is all you need.  It’s also a good idea to carry a catch bag when you’re snorkeling, so you don’t have to constantly return to the boat.   And for your safety, get a Diver Down Flag to alert other boaters that you’re diving in the area.  

There is a 2-gallon limit per individual or a 10-gallon limit per boat.  At one point, our  scallop population was on a course to demise, so this is strictly enforced.  Two gallons of scallops yields about a pint of cleaned scallops, and on a good day, you can harvest that many fairly quickly.  Other times, you may struggle to even get a gallon.  Who really cares, just enjoy the experience and recreation of it.

Scallop shells are about 2-3” in diameter and sandy brown in color.  If the scallop is open, you may see a row of pinhead-size blue eyes (so I’m told).  Glad I’ve not seen that, and I’m not looking for them, as I might have a nightmare or two (sounds like something out of a sci-fi movie).   Scallops can be tough to find, as they may not be immediately visible.  It’s a good idea to ask around at local bait shops, as they often can direct you to the best areas.  Finding areas with clear water, short seagrass, and white sand is ideal.  Most scallops are nestled down in the grass with their dark side up.  They do move with the tides, so things can change quickly, and the ideal water depth is 4 to 8 feet.

Some times you may not even need a boat to scallop

Don’t be intimidated to reach down to pick up a scallop, as it won’t bite.  If you still are hesitant, get yourself a long-handled dip net until you feel comfortable enough to just dig in.  It’s best to put them on ice ASAP, so they can “relax,” opening their shells, making them easier to clean.  No special tools needed here.  A grapefruit spoon works well or you can buy an inexpensive oyster knife to separate the muscle once the shell is open.  

Curious visitors cruising by

There’s just nothing like a freshly-harvested scallop.  Soooooo sweet and fresh, unlike anything you’ve ever had.  Enjoy a few on the half shell right at the dock just as you would do with oysters or clams, or hurry home to prepare an incredible Florida seafood dinner.  

Scalloping makes me happy I live in this beautiful state.  What’s better than snorkeling in the calm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, enjoying a day of saltwater and sunshine, floating across clear blue water with lush seagrass below loaded with scallops just waiting for you?  And then comes the payoff:   sitting down with your scalloping friends  to a delicious dinner you’ve made with the day’s catch and reminiscing about all the fun you had.  Life really is full of “little moments,” and scalloping brings a smile to my face.  I hope that Cheesy Tarragon Bay Scallops will bring a smile to yours.

Time to head home to cook dinner

Cheesy Tarragon Bay Scallops recipe can be found on Sargento's website:

For direct access to this recipe on the Allrecipes site:

I am an Allrecipes Allstar Brand Ambassador (a voluntary position),
and I'm not compensated for my work with  Products
were provided by Sargento and were only used for my participation
in this project.  The reviews, content and opinions expressed 
in this blog are purely the sole opinions of 
lutzflcat in her New Horizons in the Kitchen blog.
May 23, 2013 2:41 pm
Very nice!
May 23, 2013 2:57 pm
As is always true of your work, your photos are is your story. You may rest assured that I will be trying your recipe! Yum!!!
May 23, 2013 3:07 pm
Lovely! You make me want to go, too!
May 23, 2013 3:33 pm
Beautiful photos! Being landlocked in MO would you mind passing that plate!?
May 23, 2013 4:01 pm
Lovely photos, we have 10 pounds of scallops in our freezer. Thanks for posting the recipe.
May 23, 2013 4:10 pm
You made me remember last year helping my brother shuck all the scallops he and my nephew caught. We used a wet-vac to do it, had to be careful and do it just right and not suck the whole guy down. Anyway they were really good caught fresh like that. Great I just like the snorkeling part. :)
May 23, 2013 4:35 pm
YES! bay scallops rock. and hand pulled, the best. a great time like crabbing with a great shore lunch or dinner. i remember many moons a go scalloping in panama city harbor...not the beach.
May 23, 2013 5:00 pm
Great blog and beautiful pictures. Can't wait to try the recipe. You should have come to one of our Southern Roundups. We usually go to Panama City Beach. A great time is had by all.
May 23, 2013 5:22 pm
Very cool! I learned something new today! Beautiful pictures! We lived in West Palm Beach for 13 months, and I so miss the beaches!
May 23, 2013 6:44 pm
I love scallops! Your photos are awesome! Great blog.
May 23, 2013 7:22 pm
Florida bay scallops and stone crabs are two huge reasons to love going there. You can be assured I will be trying your recipe.
May 23, 2013 8:02 pm
Great blog! You reminded me of a time when I was offshore fishing and traded a six pack and $20 to a shrimper for over 5 bushels of scallops! They had a boat load.
May 24, 2013 2:05 am
Beautiful photos! That was an interesting story about how to bring scallops from the water to the table!
May 24, 2013 3:31 am
Paula, thanks for stopping by.
May 24, 2013 3:32 am
Marianne, you're too generous with your comments. Hope that you enjoy the scallop recipe.
May 24, 2013 3:33 am
Bibi, scalloping really is a fun thing to do. And the real reward is when you sit down to enjoy what you brought home.
May 24, 2013 3:34 am
Cat-Hill if only I could. Thanks for reading.
May 24, 2013 3:36 am
Manella, wow, 10 pounds of scallops. If you try this recipe, please do a review. I'd love to know what you think about it. Thanks.
May 24, 2013 3:39 am
Sherri, a wet vac? Now that's an innovative approach. We usually clean them before we even head home. Once you get the hang of it, it goes pretty quickly. Yeah, the snorkeling is cool, too!
May 24, 2013 3:42 am
gderr, you're right about the location. Often times, the best spot may not be as picturesque as being right at the beach, but when you're on a scallop mission, who cares. Those scallops are small, but soooo tasty.
May 24, 2013 3:45 am
Thanks pelicangal. If the timing ever works, I definitely will come to one of the roundups. Last year, we had a get-together in Cincinnati that weekend with some of my husband's friends from graduate school. We typically try to take a spring (this year summer) vacation and one in the fall, either September or October, so there's been a timing conflict the last two years.
May 24, 2013 3:53 am
Kim, I love being able to go to the beach whenever the spirit moves me. Early in the morning with a thermos of coffee is my favorite time You can just watch the surf roll in, the birds fishing, walk the beach, and enjoy the serenity. And watching the sun set isn't bad either! I'd really miss it if I ever had to move away.
May 24, 2013 3:54 am
Thanks Brian. My husband really likes the big sea scallops, but I prefer the small bay scallops. There are some very nice scallop recipes on this site, too.
May 24, 2013 3:57 am
BigShotsMom, I'm crazy about stone crabs, too. Not a good stone crab season this year, as the octopus has been devouring them. (And an octopus is something that I hope I NEVER see under the water when I'm scalloping!)
May 24, 2013 3:59 am
CliffG, 5 bushels of scallops??? Well, that's a deal I think I'd never forget. I hope you at least had another 6 pack in reserve.
May 24, 2013 4:04 am
Thanks sueb for taking the time to read. It's a little bit of work, for sure. But really it's a just a fun day spent with friends enjoying the water and camaraderie. We all can buy frozen scallops any day of the year, but as you can imagine, they just don't compare to the fresh scallops that you caught and cooked the same day. Such a treat!
May 24, 2013 4:36 am
Absolutely beautiful and the food looks good too. Very nice blog,an even better life's little moment.
May 24, 2013 5:09 am
Thanks, Joey. I lived in your area for about 2-1/2 years and remember many trips to the Jersey shore "clamming" on Long Beach Island. We'd take a big old floatable tire and put a bushel basket in the center, and we'd all put our clams in he basket. Nothing fancy, just freshly steamed cherrystone clams with melted butter. Makes my water just thinking about them.
May 24, 2013 8:59 am
Very interesting and one of my favorite molusks. YUM! They have these pretty pink bay scallops in northern Puget Sound but they are rare and expensive. No scallops (except for the freezer) in Maui or Las Vegas. Might have to go to Costco to get the darned frozen ones :(
May 24, 2013 9:38 am
Julie, scalloping really is sort of an adventure, especially if you're a newbie. I never had much fish growing up in the Midwest (except Mrs. Paul's fish sticks--gasp!). But as an adult, I learned to enjoy fresh fish and shellfish, in particular, with shrimp, scallops, raw oysters, and mussels at at the top of my list. And although my husband likes the larger sea scallops, I still prefer the sweet bay scallops, but I'll chow down on either. You rarely see bay scallops served at restaurants, and I've never understood that, always sea scallops. Thanks for taking the time to read.
May 24, 2013 9:42 am
Wow! I have to admit I never knew anything about scalloping! All I knew was they came from the ocean and I'm really near the Gulf too (how silly is that?)! Sounds like such fun! Personally, I don't want to eat them, but I'll be happy to collect a gallon or two for you all!
May 25, 2013 4:59 am
Staci, you're welcome aboard anytime. Now that I think about it, not sure why we do this once a year. It is fun, we love scallops, and we should go out several times during the short season.
May 29, 2013 12:02 pm
Special moments indeed. Your recipe looks fabulous and I have to say I need to put scalloping on my 'bucket list'. Thanks for sharing.
May 29, 2013 12:40 pm
I enjoyed your "About Me" comments..especially about the goetta, which I know as scrapple. I love it, love it. Hard to describe except my mom says it includes all of the pig except for the "oink". I am from Ind. but have retired to southern Oh....90 mi. east of Cincy. My NJ daughter flew out and took me to Cincy for Mother's Day treat...actually Covington, Ky...with all that German heritage and where they sell goetta...we even went past the factory. I have never tried to make it but am sure homemade is even better than factory made.
May 30, 2013 5:00 am
Baking Nana, it is great fun, and I hope one day you'll be able to give it a try. If you're ever in our area during season, you're welcome to join us.
May 30, 2013 5:12 am
Judy, I think your Mom is right, and that's all the more reason to make your own :-) Goetta uses pinhead oatmeal and scrapple uses cornmeal, but other than that, I think they're pretty much the same. I use only boston butt and pork loin (equal portions), pinhead oatmeal, pork broth, and salt & pepper. I was back in Cincy during the summer about 10 years ago, and there was a Goetta Fest going on in Covington that weekend. I never knew goetta could be served so many different ways. I think the sponsor was Geier's which sells packaged goetta in the stores there. We were back for a weekend last September for a get-together with three other couples, and the downtown Cincinnati Hyatt had it on its breakfast bar. I slice and brown mine in a skillet, theirs was in a large warming tray, chunked up, and looked just like mush...horrible! We have a wonderful German meat market in nearby Sarasota, so I still can get my German sausage fix there. Thanks for stopping by.
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About Me
Retired from a high-stress sales career which involved lots of travel. I now have the time to relax, turn off the alarm clock and sleep in, read a book, magazine or the newspaper (every day, not just Sunday) and, most importantly, take in everything that the Florida lifestyle offers, and that's a lot! And, finally, I have the luxury to really pursue a lifetime passion, cooking.
My favorite things to cook
Enjoy all kinds of food and cuisines, and I literally can't think of one food that I would refuse to eat. And that even includes liver (don't like cooking it, but sure like eating it). I love good food, but you won't find me making a recipe that has 40 ingredients. I just don't have the attention span for that.
My favorite family cooking traditions
My husband's grandmother was from Bavaria, and his mother learned to cook many of her old-country recipes which she then passed on to me. Our traditional Christmas dinner is sauerbraten (which marinates for at least five days) with gravy, homemade egg noodles sauteed in butter, potato balls (which float to the top of the boiling water if prepared correctly), sweet and sour red cabbage, and freshly cooked apples (gotta have something healthy). It's an exhausting meal that literally takes all day to prepare, but it's worth the effort. Yeah, I know it's also a carbohydrate nightmare, but what the heck, we only have it once a year.
My cooking triumphs
Mastering the Christmas sauerbraten meal was a victory. Also, making homemade goetta, a breakfast meat from Cincinnati. My version is made with all pork, equal portions of boston butt and loin. Today's goetta in Cincy has beef in it, as does the recipe on this site, but I'm sticking with ALL pork. It is totally unhealthy for you, but it's a treat, and I don't make it often.
My cooking tragedies
There have been a number over the years like the potato balls mentioned above just disintegrating into a puddle of potato shreds. There's no recipe, it's just a matter of "feeling right" when you're mixing. Not long ago, I made a peach pie and got so caught up in trying to make the pie crust work that I forgot to add the dry ingredients (sugar, flour, cinnamon, etc.) to the peaches that were sitting in a bowl on the counter. Cooked it anyway, it was ghastly, and then threw it away. My ongoing tragedy is making pie crust. There must a black cloud hanging over my head when I'm making pie crust because I ALWAYS have problems. But I'm not giving up, one day this tragedy will turn into a triumph and be listed above!
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