My Introduction to the Beloved Wellfleet Oyster
As a little girl, my father would take me to Indian Neck beach in Wellfleet to hit the tide for oysters and clams. We would rake and dig through the coffee-colored sand until his basket was full and hands calloused. Back then, I remember thinking to myself, “how could something pulled from the most pungent, disgusting smelling sand be considered a famous Cape delicacy?” But fast forward fifteen years, and I now have a much better understanding and appreciation of these famed shellfish.
Characteristics of the Wellfleet Oyster
Though I may be a little bit biased, Wellfleet oysters are one of the best tasting bivalves out there, and that’s because of the conditions they grow and are harvested in. The waters of Wellfleet are cold and nutrient-rich with more tidal flow. These conditions make for the briny, succulent, and savory yet creamy deep-cupped oysters that we line up for annually at Wellfleet OysterFest. Though my appreciation for Wellfleet oysters took years to fully develop, I now smile to myself whenever a server at a seafood restaurant in Boston tries to sell me spectacular tasting oysters from a small, quirky town on Cape Cod.
Aside from growing naturally in the favorable conditions of Wellfleet's waters,
Wellfleet oysters can also be grown from seeds that are produced by
hatcheries. Hatcheries are essentially a lab/farm hybrid where shellfish are grown and cared for. The hatcheries utilize various spawn inducing methods to harvest the seeds of the oysters. Once planted, it will take the oysters about 2-3 years of growing before they reach market size. In order for the oysters to grow to full size, the lab simulates the onset of early spring
conditions in regard to water temperature and sunlight intervals. The result? The renowned shellfish that has an entire festival dedicated to it every fall in Wellfleet.
Enjoying your Oysters
When it comes to enjoying your Wellfleet oysters, let’s just say there’s no wrong way to do so. While you may get some skeptical looks from locals if you choose to indulge on the beloved delicacy in any other way besides raw, you can rest assured there’s no incorrect way to appreciate the taste of Wellfleets. My personal favorite ways to enjoy oysters are either on the half-shell over ice with cocktail sauce and lemon, or roasted over the fire and dipped in butter. This said, let’s take a look at how the founder of Cape Oyster Experiences dresses his oysters before digging in.
Cape Oyster Experiences
Henry Dubin founded Cape Oyster Experiences in 2020 as a way to share his love and passion for oysters with visitors and locals alike. What motivated Dubin was that there weren’t many companies or individuals that were marketing the oyster as an experience. Thus, he partnered with Holbrook Oysters to bring his vision to life. Flash forward two years later, and Dubin has hosted numerous backyard experiences, shucking demonstrations, and pop ups with small local businesses. A hit at these oyster experiences has been Henry’s homemade Strawberry Mojito Mignonette Sauce. Mignonette sauce is a condiment traditionally used on raw oysters that typically contains shallots, cracked pepper, and white vinegar, but Dubin put his own little spin on the classic sauce. His Strawberry Mignonette recipe contains diced strawberries, apple cider vinegar, mint, and shallots. This vibrant, citrusy sauce is inspired by everyone’s favorite summer drink: the mojito! It pairs perfect with the crisp, cool taste of Wellfleet oysters.
Tips for Shucking
If the above paragraph has you wanting to head to your local seafood market to purchase some Wellfleets and try out your new mojito mignonette, it may be a good idea for you to brush up on your shucking skills! Here are a few tips and tricks that might help when it comes to opening an oyster. Don't forget to wear your gloves and use a towel when holding the oyster - you don't want to cut yourself!
1. Hold oyster flat side up so that cup is on the bottom. Have hinge pointing toward you.
2. Grab oyster knife, go in at hinge at 45 degree angle. Start to work your way inward. Don't use too much force as you don't want to break the shell.
3. Once you have worked the knife into the hinge, twist the knife so that it pops the hinge open.
4. Once it pops, slip the knife in and cut the muscle from the top of the shell. Then, discard the top shell and then cut the muscle from the bottom of the shell.