How To Make Oysters

Now that you’ve joined me on a vigorous early-spring hike to Cape Cod Bay, it’s time to reward ourselves with a scrumptious local delicacy: some of our famous Wellfleet Oysters. Here’s how it’s done.

Raw Wellfleet Oysters with Lemon Wedges & Cocktail Sauce


Oysters (crassotrea virginica)
Prepared horseradish (e.g. Gold’s)


  • Go to Wellfleet, Massachusetts. (You will never wish to leave.)
  • Buy a shellfish permit.
  • Assemble the following supplies: bucket, screwdriver, submersible shoes, and gloves.
  • Go to a bay beach at low tide (I prefer Indian Neck Beach).
  • Splash around in the shallow water, gathering clumps of oysters from the seabed.
  • Pry them apart with your screwdriver, tossing back the little ones.
  • Throw the big ones into your bucket. When you have enough, leave.
  • Rinse them off when you get them home.
  • Place them into a container of some sort, bottom side down, and refrigerate them. They will now enter a sort of suspended animation, and will stay perfectly fresh for at least a week if kept cold.

Cocktail Sauce:

  • Put some ketchup in a bowl.
  • Add horseradish and lemon juice to taste.

Lemon Wedges:

  • Using a knife, slice some lemons into longitudinal segments.

To Serve:

  • Shuck the oysters, preferably without injuring yourself. A tutorial on oyster-shucking is beyond the scope of this document.
  • Present the shucked oysters, supine and beckoning, on as attractive a platter as you can manage, accompanied by lemon wedges and a bowl of cocktail sauce.

  1. Some fancy-pants Big City types will tell you that it is an abomination to use ordinary cocktail sauce on such exquisite molluscs. Shun them. They are mistaken.


  1. JK says

    I’m uncertain about a couple of things Malcolm,

    Well. Couple usually means two, so first things first. You mention “first things first… submersible shoes.”

    I should have done this in “Word” so I could appropriately italicize “submersible shoes?”

    In the Ozarks we have no titanium sheathed shoes with an outer “blowable” containment field. I quite understand I’d have to trek to Massachusetts but in the offchance I would make such a trek-would a pair of Hi-Top Converses do? The ones with the red circles?

    I have scooped a few hundred oysters from their shells and chewed them, swallowed, and (here again I wish I’d taken the opportunity to italicize) enjoyed the heck out of my ingestation. I particularly enjoyed the non-injunction my Veteran’s Administration physicians didn’t injunct me with as far as including my cholesterol medications in my saddle-bags. (Yes, we still ride donkeys where I’m from.) Mine is named after my Dad’s favorite, “Rocinante.”

    Anyway, my one question is: I’ve eaten oysters in Thailand, in New Zealand, Australia, and Louisiana but I have never before been advised to have “submersible shoes.” Heck, I’ve even eaten mussels out of Southfork, in the middle of the doggone continental US!

    Why is it that with “Wellfleet oysters” one is required to have submersible shoes? Oh, I suppose a further question: should the submersible shoes be outfitted with launch-tubes?


    Posted March 30, 2008 at 4:24 am | Permalink
  2. Malcolm says

    First of all, JK, you can italicize using the “QuickTags” just above the comment box. You want the one marked em (just highlight what you want in italics, and click the button). Or you can enclose the text you wish to italicize in suitable HTML tags, such as “<i>text</i>”, or “<em>text</em>”.

    As for the shoes, you want something on your feet, because the oysterbed is littered with razor-sharp oyster shells. Normally you wouldn’t want to wear your best Bruno Magli wingtips for this, so I recommend shoes that you don’t mind submerging in salt water.

    Posted March 30, 2008 at 12:49 pm | Permalink
  3. JK says

    Bruno Whatli?

    I did extensive research in the archives of

    and could not find the manufacturer, perhaps the expiration of my clearances has something to do with it.

    I do have one regret. Having mentioned that we still ride donkeys in this neck of the woods you apparently generalize that we all remain barefoot.

    That my friend only applies to the pregnant. And I am sextagonally impervious to that.


    Posted March 30, 2008 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

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