As a child, I spent a lot of time with my dad on his oyster farm in Edgartown. I didn’t enjoy oysters as much as steamers or quahogs, but I slurped them down with everyone else until they finally grew on me. Even so, I didn’t realize the slimy creatures were a delicacy until I returned to college after a break with a cooler-full, to the shock and delight of my housemates.
Fresh, local oysters, mussels, clams, and fish were something I took for granted until I found myself landlocked in a place where canned tuna and frozen shrimp were the only seafood around for miles. Since returning to the Vineyard, I make sure to take advantage of our abundant, locally harvested seafood whenever I get the chance.
There are many healthy and tasty ways to prepare shellfish. As an alternative to fried fish, dip fillets in egg and whole wheat bread crumbs and bake for 15 minutes. Oysters can be opened and left on the half shell, dotted with a teaspoon of pesto, and baked at a low temperature. Mussels are delicious steamed in some water mixed with white wine, garlic, and onion, then served with toasted French bread. Scallops can be a great addition to a vegetable stir-fry, served over rice or pasta. And of course, all shellfish are delicious steamed until the shells crack open, and dipped in a little butter.
Try your hand at making these fried clam fritters. You can also try avocado, sunflower, or peanut oil to fry them.
Recipe by Robin Forte
1½ cups flour
¾ tsp. salt
¾ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
12 oz. clams, chopped
3 scallions, finely chopped
1 egg beaten
¾ cup buttermilk
Vegetable oil for frying
In a small bowl combine the flour, salt, baking soda, and cayenne if you are using. In a larger bowl combine the chopped clams, scallions, egg, and buttermilk. Add the flour mixture and stir until combined. Drop by small spoonfuls into hot vegetable oil until browned and floating.
Ava Castro is the preschool coordinator for Island Grown Schools, the Vineyard’s farm-to-school program.