I won’t lie I got lucky with living in the coastal VA area. The access to local seafood is pretty abundant and always fresh. I’ve grown a big liking to seafood and its one of the things I really love to cook now. I kept seeing posts on facebook about oysters here in Norfolk from Sam Rust Seafood here locally great guy and a great resource aside from other seafood guy here locally.
Growing up didn’t really mess with oysters a lot or ever wasn’t something my parents or family ever really got into. I can’t imagine my dad who is the most bland eater in the world slurping down an oyster. Note to self when they visit this summer…put him through the ringer. I never really had an oyster until maybe four years ago when I was in Charleston visiting friends and was invited to a oyster roast at their compound from then on in as a southern boy oysters became a part of life. I’ve had them in a lot of ways some super gross inside of shots of whiskey with hot sauce and also in more elegant ways as well. Tonight I grabbed about two dozen and did them two ways for friends here locally for a light dinner. Probably should add that maybe don’t these for someone you don’t really know or are trying to make a decent impression on. Words cannot describe the debacle that I went through to open a dozen of each. That pointy, thick knife with the big wooden handle called an oyster knife? Sam tells me that the best way to determine whether an oyster or clam is fresh, alive and well is to knock ‘em. Specifically, knock two against each other or one against the counter. If they sound hollow, throw ‘em away. Also, oysters and clams should be closed super-tight (um, YEAH. I know.) When you get home, grab 2 bowls, one that fits inside the other. Unbag the oysters and clams and put them in the smaller bowl. Fill larger bowl with ice and put the smaller bowl inside, on top of the ice. Refrigerate. According to SRS, if stored properly, they’ll last for a few days like that. But I always go by the rule of eating them same day or next day.
I did the oysters two ways the first that will be shown below is an Asian inspired oyster Mignonette. I tend to lean a lot towards Asian and Latin flavors I enjoy the contrast of bold and subtle that play with one another on the pallet.
For the Asian Mignonette
1 teaspoon water
2 tablespoons sweetened (seasoned) rice vinegar
1/4 teaspoon red peppercorns or red chili flake
1 teaspoon finely minced ginger
1 teaspoon finely minced shallots
1/4 teaspoon whole coriander seeds (optional)
In a small bowl, whisk together the Asian Mignonette ingredients. Additions to this I like to add some crunchy panko to the tops of the oysters. Also if you’re looking for a smoother mignonette this can be done in a blender it will puree it to a nice green silky color.
Makes 24 appetizers
2 dozen oysters, shucked
5 tbsp butter, unsalted
1/2 bag fresh spinach leaves, stems removed and finely chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
3 tbsp fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
3 tbsp cooked bacon, chopped
2 tbsp white wine
2 tbsp heavy cream
1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Swiss cheese
1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
1/2 tsp Pernod
Lemon wedges for garnish
Using an oyster knife, pry open the oyster shells and remove the oysters, reserving the oyster liquor. Discard the top and loosen each oyster from the base of its shell. Set aside and keep cool.
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Spread a 1/2-inch thick layer of rock salt on a large baking sheet and arrange the oyster shells on top, making sure they’re all level. The rock salt will stabilize them. Pour a little of the reserved oyster liquor on top of each shell.
Finely chop the onion and celery. Melt three tablespoons of butter in a sauté pan over medium heat, and add the celery and onion and cook one minute. Add the chopped spinach and the remaining butter, and cook another minute or two until the spinach has wilted. Add the white wine and Pernod and cook another two minutes, stirring constantly. Add the cream and stir to combine. The mixture may be made ahead of time up to this point, and refrigerated until ready to use, up to 3 days.