Locavore on the Road: Smoked Shellfish on the Cape

I came across my first smoked scallop purely by accident. A fried seafood joint was recommended for lunch and my husband and I headed straight there once we crossed the Sagamore bridge on our way to Wellfleet on Cape Cod. Once we arrived at Sir Cricket’s in Orleans, well, I had to go to the bathroom. I was directed next door to the fish market.

Nauset Fish and Lobster Pool and Sir Cricket’s share a small, almost suburban plaza-ish storefront, with only a few neutrally appointed tables in the latter for eating indoors (and one wooden table outdoors overlooking a major roadway). If it wasn’t for the weathered wooden signs, one might disregard both places as inauthentic. But while the fried scallops and crabster roll and sweet potato fries that we had for lunch were quite good, it was the smoked scallops that I spied when I squeezed by the display case in the market on my way to  the facilities that stole my heart. Despite the fact that Steve was waiting on our order next door, I bought a quarter pound of smoked scallops (at $20.99/ lb).

Their texture was firm and a bit chewy – and I rather like that not every scallop was equally smoked through, as though I could picture them in their smoker, crowding each other, being occassionally tossed with a large wooden spoon as the smoke master shielded his eyes. Each medium-to-large scallop were firm and just a bit chewy – a nice difference from the smoked fish I had in  the past that flaked apart almost immediately. And the deep smoke intensified the sweetness of the scallops, not turning the taste fishy at all. They lasted well in our cool (not cold) cooler and were a great snack the next day at the beach – smoking being an original form of preserving, and a good one at that.

We were so in awe of the smoked scallops that three days later we returned for more, only to find that they had smoked mussels “instead”. (Did they smoke seafood nearly every day? I wouldn’t be surprised if they did – everything tasted incredibly fresh – or as fresh as something smoked could be.) The mussels were just as good – they kept their shape amazingly, and were still plump and tender-chewy as if they had been caught that morning and steamed.

Even though Orleans in barely an hour and a half away, I doubt I’ll have reason to head down there anytime soon. Which means I might be trying my hand at smoking my own sometime soon.

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