Well, it’s time to get that massive burger & small bun off the top of the blog, before any more Shiite Paleos get the vapors over it.
Generally, here’s how I’ve always preferred my shellfish in terms of prepared dishes (not just broiled lobster or boiled / steamed crab):
- Lobster or clam bisque
- Raw oysters on the half shell with red wine vinegar and chopped shallot
- Mussels, either in a white wine / chicken broth with shallot / garlic, or any of the Italian versions using tomatoes
- Clams in a butter / garlicy deal, or in a chowder
But yesterday I went to a market a few minutes from home and obtained fresh oysters from the beds up at Pt. Reyes, local.
Every now and then we do a family camping trip up in Olema, just a mile away from Pt. Reyes Station, and here’s how that goes in pictures, once we hit the oyster beds. I’ve had oyster stew a number of times but I wanted to do a soup, analogous to a lobster or crab bisque.
I found Alton Brown’s rendition. From much experience, you can’t go wrong with Alton, even if it’s just to get a few pointers for your own creation. He’s sciency, too.
- 4 cups heavy cream
- 1 pint oysters and liquor, separated
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup finely chopped celery
- 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
- 1 teaspoon celery seed
- 1 1/2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley leaves, chervil, or chives
- Salt and pepper
Obviously, I have more than a pint, so I winged it in about 1 1/2 recipe proportion.
- In a heavy 2-quart saucepan over medium heat, bring the heavy cream and oyster liquor from the oysters to a simmer. Remove from the heat.
- Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the celery and a pinch of the salt and sweat for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the onion and continue cooking until translucent, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add celery seed, hot pepper sauce, and oysters and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the edges of the oysters start to curl.
- Transfer the oysters to the carafe of a blender and add enough of the cream just to cover.
- Puree until the mixture is smooth. Return the remaining cream to medium heat, add the pureed mixture, and cook until heated through.
- Just before serving, add the lemon juice, chopped herbs, and season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Pretty damn simple, but creates one hellava gawd awful mess in the kitchen.
This is the point at which you’re heating up the heavy cream and liquor from the oysters (seriously, I have no idea why their juice is call liquor), and sautéing the onions and celery (along with the 4 chopped porcini mushrooms I added in my own style).
Then come the oysters, and then that whole thing goes into the processor or blender to be pureed, and yes, along with all the grit in the oysters (and in the oyster juice as well). Personally, I like my oysters on the half shell to not be drained. I like the grit—in clam chowder as well—which signals to me that is has not been processed to the lowest common idiot denominator.
Once that’s done, it goes in with the cream and juice, and a shot while later, is served.
Another variation beyond the mushrooms is that I sliced up a small stock of leek and added that into the cooking portion. Then, for garnish, it was fresh leek, fresh celery and fresh parsley.
As always, all images can be clicker for higher-res versions.
In the end, I think I’ll primarily stick with fresh raw oysters on the half shell. It was good, but very, very heavy. Perhaps using half-&-half would have been a bit better, or, it’s just a small cup as an app prior to dinner. It just felt way too heavy and substantial to me, in the end, though very tasty.
I have a bottle of clam juice, so I intend to cut the leftovers with that when I have some this afternoon.
…Alright, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go clean up ce bordel that used to be my kitchen. World Series got in the way. But wow. Giants have prevailed in six straight games, giving up only 4 runs in 54 innings. The last time there was a back-to-back shutout in the the WS was 1966, Baltimore against LA.