By Gwenn Friss
The Cape Codders who are still out there harvesting shellfish are hoping the people in home quarantine — who normally eat oysters and clams in restaurants — will cook them at home.
“We found, years ago, that a barrier to cooking shellfish at home was that people didn’t know how to shuck it,” says Michele Insley, executive director of Wellfleet SPAT (Shellfish Promotion and Tasting).
At its annual Wellfleet Oysterfest, held each October since 2001, SPAT offers daily “how to open” workshops. But, short-term, The group is supporting home cooks with recipes that steam open shellfish so no one has to open a closed shell.
Insley says cooking local shellfish at home not only supports a local food supply but is good for you.
“Oysters and clams are very nutritious,” she says. “They are a low-fat protein that contain zinc, copper, B12, selenium and vitamin D. Research shows zinc is good for immunity to prevent the common cold.” Insley says Holbrook Oyster in Wellfleet is offering local delivery of farm-raised oysters at wholesale prices of $10 per dozen, $35 for 60 or $60 for $100. Minimumn order is $45, messaged or texted to 508-237-6929.
Chatham Shellfish also has local delivery available for orders of $50 or more, with oysters at $2 each delivered and mussels or $5 per pound. Delivery area includes Chatham, Harwich and Brewster only. Mussels and littlenecks may become available if there is more demand, according to the company’s website, chathamoysters.com. There is a link to pay directly to avoid handling cash.
Holbrook Oyster is also working with a local clam harvester, Insley says, to provide clams.
In another effort to support local shellfishing, the proprietors of East Dennis Oyster Company, John and Stephanie Lowell, are working with Realtor Katie Clancy of The Cape House at William Raveis Real Estate, to assemble and sell clam chowder kits for curbside pickup in Dennis.
For $15 you get 12-14 chowder- size quahogs, six potatoes and a large onion. Call 508- 451-3124 for information on ordering, payment and pickup.
Clancy, who is donating the vegetables, says the chowder kits started selling as soon as they were publicized on social media. The first pickups are today, and the effort will continue so long as there are clams to fill the orders, she says.
Clancy encouraged others to help local businesses in any way possible, be it buying a gift certificate or leaving a good social media review.
Clancy says all proceeds will go to support a Dennis shellfisherman whose retail business has been impacted by COVID-19 quarantines. While a lot of people are feeling the effects, Clancy says she and the Lowells decided to start by helping one and seeing what grew from there.
“You know, like the story of starfish covering the beach and the guy who was walking along tossing as many as he could back into the water and saying, with each, ‘Helped that one.’
See recipes below.
GRILLED OYSTERS WITH GARLIC-HERB BUTTER
By Michele Insley
• A few dozen Wellfleet Oysters
• Olive oil or butter
• Herbs of your choice
• Lemon juice, liquor, be creative!
• Salt and pepper
Heat a small saucepan over medium heat. Add oil or butter and garlic, sautee until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Then add herbs, salt, pepper and liquid flavorings of your choice. Turn off heat.
Grilling – no shuck method
Place oysters directly on the grill, cup side up.
Grill over high heat, 1-2 minutes until they pop.
Remove from grill with long tongs, spatula or gloves and place on an oyster platter or a platter lined with rice, seaweed, rock salt,etc. – anything to stabilize oysters.
Hold each oyster with a heat-resistant glove or oven mitt and open all the way by removing the flat shell using a shucking knife or other strong blunt knife.
Leave the oyster in cupped half of the shell and spoon a little sauce into each one. Return to the grill, cover and cook for another 4-5 minutes.
If you are a good shucker, you can skip the first step. Simply open the oysters into the cupped half, spoon a little sauce into each one place on the grill, cover and cook for 4-5 minutes.
KATY’S AWESOME CLAMS
From “The Joy of Shucking” printed by Wellfleet SPAT in 2004
Recipe by Katy Kmiec of Hatch’s Fish Market, Wellfleet
• 40 Wellfleet littleneck clams, scrubbed
• ¼ – ½ cup olive oil
• 4 cloves garlic, chopped
• 2 medium onions, chopped
• 1 teaspoon dried basil
• 1 teaspoon dried oregano
• 1 teaspoon red pepper fl akes
• 1 cup white wine
• ½ cup water, as needed
In a skillet, heat olive oil. Add garlic, onion and red pepper over low-to medium heat. Saute 2 minutes.
Add basil and oregano and stir.
Add clams and mix all ingredients together.
Add wine and water, stir and cover to let clams steam open.
Place clams in a serving dish, drench in broth and serve with pasta or crusty bread.