Dock Report: Montauk Pearl Oysters

montauk pearls oysters_01_Hamptons Magazine

Captain Mike Martinsen, left, and and marine biologist Mike Doall, the founders of The Montauk Shellfish Company. • Photo by Doug Young

Many chefs have established first-name relationships with farmers, vintners, cattlemen or the leading free-range organic chicken ranchers, in addition to producers of spices, olive oils, strains of wheat or even honey of a particular viscosity. Typically these producers and purveyors know their trade inside-and-out and will give you a wink and a nod when a window of peak seasonal flavor opens.

Dock to Dish is happy to relay two emphatic winks and nods from our most trusted and knowledgeable local oyster harvesters, Mike Martinsen and marine biologist Mike Doall, founders of the Montauk Shellfish Company and two of the hardest-working, most well-respected guys here on the dock.
We have waited patiently all year for this duo to make their annual debut to the members of the cooperative. Their bountiful hard shell haul in absolutely peak autumn harvest condition was sorted carefully, chilled and delivered on schedule.

The cold clean waters off of Montauk experience perpetual turbulence as the Atlantic Ocean, the Long Island and the Block Island sounds wildly drive currents — filled with phytoplankton and other nutrients — throughout the water column. Martinsen and Doall pioneered the first “surface” oyster farm in New York State. They start their oysters out in the shallow, protected and briny waters of Lake Montauk and then move them to the deeper waters of Block Island Sound for a few months where they get an “ocean finish” that adds a complex spectrum of enhanced textures and marine flavors.

Below is a brief yet invigorating video by our good friend Liza de Guia, founder and chief storyteller of Food Curated, a four-time James Beard Award nominiee and New York Times contributor who brings you behind the scenes (and out on the water) to experience the passions that are driving the local food movement.

Oysters are among the most sustainable seafoods on earth, and NOAA also highlights the health benefits of oysters, which “are an excellent source of protein, containing heart- and brain-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and low amounts of saturated fat. Just one oyster contains about 28 percent of the recommended daily allowance of iron. Martinsen and Doall recently met with Carl Safina, a world authority on seafood and sustainability, during an American Catch workshop hosted by best-selling author, oyster advocate and aficionado Paul Greenberg.

At Dock to Dish we trust FishWatch for reliable, science-based information about sustainability, and encourage you to explore their website regularly to learn about the ever-changing status of our fisheries.