There are many reasons to visit my birthplace, beautiful Tasmania, but perhaps the best one is to eat freshly caught scallops. Oh yes indeed.
Even as far back as WWI locals complained that too many were shipped off to the mainland. However, it seems this was not the case in 1937;
Thirteen million eaten in Tassie? Good grief….there must have been an awful lot of hotels in 1937. I wonder if there were size limits in those days?
Now let’s get something out of the way. The next photo may look like sea scallops in batter that have been run over by a bus…. BUT…..they are potato scallops! Why they are allowed to go by this name I have no idea. Many tourists know the heartbreak .of ordering remarkably cheap scallops at fish shops and ending up with fried. sliced spud.
At the end of August Betty would put down her knife….scallop season CLOSED!
On Wednesday last there fell upon Tasmania a great grief. It is an annual bewailing, alas! The scallop season ended – but only after Tasmanians had consumed some 18,000,000 or so of these succulent bivalves. (Mercury, September 3 1938)
Traditionally, scallop season began on May 1st. (It has since changed to April 13). The following is from The Advocate in May 1945;
Here in Tasmania May Day heralds something far more practical and prosaic than the crowning of the Queen of May. The daily papers solemnly announce the tidings that ‘ the scallop season opens today!‘ Scallops gratify the popular taste. Their reappearance is welcomed by many. The catch is good in the broad waters of Southern Tasmania, but the tasty shellfish, plentiful in Hobart, comes to the North-West Coast in more restricted quantities. The best known method of cooking scallops is perhaps that of thickening them with white sauce, parsley sauce, or curry.
I grew up on the North-West Coast. We only ate scallops a few times a year, and yes, my mother always served them in a mild curry. I don’t think she knew any other way, but we loved them like that, so it didn’t matter.
The following photo was taken at Hobart’s Constitution Dock in the 1950s. Oh my word, eight shilling for a hundred!
These jewels of the sea deserve to be treated with respect. Deep fried crumbed scallaps are not to be contemplated. And nor, contrary to what you may be told in Hobart, is it acceptable to bury them in a pastry coffin; 😨
Tasmanian scallops, my oh my!
But please don’t put them in a pie!
In fact, it is almost sacrilege to eat them any way but seared.
And this is simply….sublime;
I live in the Blue Mountains these days, but I still order scallops whenever they appear on a menu. Our village eatery The Victory Cafe won my heart recently with scallops (Tasmanian I hope) and smokey bacon, served with corn puree and popcorn.
In conclusion, I would like to mention a more unusual Tasmanian delicacy, sometimes referred to as Flying Sheep. You can read about them HERE.