If you can get the incredibly sweet and succulent scallops of Peconic Bay, Long Island, New York, or of Nantucket, Massachusetts, your scallop fry will be truly memorable.
1 pound scallops (preferably Peconic Bay or Nantucket bay scallops)
1 3/4 teaspoons salt plus additional to taste
1 quart vegetable oil
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 jumbo eggs
2 cups cracker meal
1. Toss the scallops with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and place in a colander to drain. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
2. When ready to fry, heat the vegetable oil in a deep-fryer, wok, or Dutch oven to 340 degrees.
3. Mix the flour well with 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper. Place seasoned flour on a wide dish. Beat the eggs well in a wide, shallow bowl. Toss the cracker meal with the remaining teaspoon of salt and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Place on a wide dish. Dust the scallops, a few at a time, in the flour. Dip the scallops, a few at a time, in the eggs, then in the cracker meal. Turn each scallop around in the cracker meal until well coated. (The scallops will cook best if you dry them for at least 15 minutes; it is best to do this on a fine-meshed grid, so that the air can circulate. If you're drying them on a plate, turn them over after a few minutes.)
4. When ready to cook, lower the coated scallops, in batches, into the hot oil. (It is best to do just a few at a time- 7 or 8 small scallops- so that the heat of the oil doesn't decrease.) Cook 2 to 3 minutes, or until the scallops are golden brown. Remove, drain on paper towels, and sprinkle with the additional salt. Serve immediately.
Scallops are a special case when it comes to deep-frying; if not treated properly, they tend to bleed a milky liquid through the coating, spoiling the crispness of the fry. Therefore, a quick salt soak (to remove moisture) and an extra layer of coating (flour) are recommended. This recipe will work well for any scallop -- but the small bay scallops work best, to our taste. And if you can get the incredibly sweet and succulent scallops of Peconic Bay, Long Island, New York, or of Nantucket, Massachusetts, your scallop fry will be truly memorable. Serves 4.