When I was at primary school my mate Mark Hawker’s dad had a fishing boat, and from it I would watch the local ships come in piled high with sacks of queen scallops fished from the reefs.
Sadly, over-trawling put an end to all that, and you rarely see them fished in Lyme bay any more. This is also due to the work involved in cleaning them; they’re medium-sized but they take the same amount of time to prepare and clean as a large scallop
My fondest school memory was when Mark’s mum would pack us little polystyrene cups of queen scallops in vinegar for our school break treat. Thinking back on it now, it was a tad eccentric – we were the only kids in the country eating freshly caught queenies in the school playground.
Years later, I was invited to the Isle of Man by Tim Croft, a sustainable shellfish procurer, to attend the queen scallop festival, where I cooked and sold queen scallops off a barbecue. Tim still supplies me with queenies and even sends them in the half shell which saves us a lot of time.
When they arrive, they’re fresh enough to serve raw with a ponzu dressing or finely diced cucumber, chilli and lime juice. After the first day we bake them with breadcrumbs and herbs like in the recipe below. They’re also great on a plate of roasted mixed shellfish with lobster, prawns and razor clams.