As a child, I spent a lot of time with my dad on his oyster farm in Katama. 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 of oysters, to the shock and delight of my housemates.
Our closeness to the ocean is one of the many things that make our Island community unique.
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. My favorite way to prepare oysters is putting the whole oyster in its shell on the grill until it pops open. Remove half the shell and top with a little pesto and cheese, then return to the grill until the cheese melts. Mussels are delicious steamed in some water mixed with white wine, garlic, and onion, then served with toasted French bread. As an alternative to fried fish, dip filets in egg and whole wheat bread crumbs and bake for 15 minutes. And of course all shellfish is delicious simply steamed until the shells crack open, and dipped in a little butter.
This month try our featured recipe — Grilled Littleneck Clams.
Grilled Littleneck Clams
Recipe by Maura Martin and Austin Racine of Mo’s Lunch
2 sticks butter
6 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced or chopped
3 lbs. littleneck clams, rinsed
8 (or more) thick slices crusty bread
Prepare a grill for medium-high heat (hardwood charcoal preferred, but gas grill is fine). Place the butter and garlic in a saucepan and put it on the grates to melt as the grill is heating up.
Cook the butter mixture until the garlic is just beginning to sizzle, then remove from heat.
Next, place the littlenecks directly on the grill grates.
While the clams are cooking, lightly brush the bread with some of the garlic butter, grill to your liking, and then set aside.
After about 3 minutes or so, as each clam pops open, pull it off with tongs and put directly into the butter pot, swirling as you add the clams to fully coat them with the butter and garlic. When all clams have opened and are happily coated with the butter and now clam juice, serve directly from the pot with the grilled bread for dipping.