Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Oysterpalooza! -or- Does this month have an R in it?

Hmmm... Let me check.


Whoo hoo!

Time for an oyster roast!!

I've done smoked pork, pulled pork, lechon asado, wings, ribs, and some kick-ass baked ham over the last month and a half... But even though I spent 2 weeks on a semi-deserted island (i.e. no INTELLENGENT* life, Heh) I have not dabbeled in cooking any seafood lately...
We had an oyster roast the first week of December...

The Perfect Child on the prowl for a tasty morsel.

And I think it's getting to be time for another seafood fest.
A couple bags of oysters, maybe some crawfish...
Perhaps some scrimps and clams... Maybe some fried grouper.
Let's start with a nice oyster roast, shall we?

You know, it was a brave man that first picked up an oyster, pryed it open, looked at the inside of it and thought "Man. I wonder what that'd taste like?" and ate it.

I'm ok with raw oysters, but I'd rather they be steamed or roasted on a grill...
Oysters Rockefeller and Casino are ok but are a lot of work.

For you folks without a lot of experience with family Ostreidae here are a few pointers:

The Goods:
On the East Coast, oysters is oysters. Whether you have sweet little Malpeques or Beausoleils from Nova Scotia, Parramours from Chincoteague Bay in Virginia, Blue Pointes from Long Island Sound, or -my personal favorites- Appalachicolas from Appalachicola Bay, they are all the same critter- Crassostrea virginica...

If we talk Left Coast, it's a different set o' animals entirely.
The only native oysters harvested for human consumption you will find in the Pacific Northwest is the Olympia oyster (Ostreola conchaphila), once near extinction...
A series of non-native species were brought in to fill the void, and now you can get Kumamotos (Crassostrea sikamea), and Pacific oysters (Crassostrea gigas). This importation and proliferation is causing problems in the natual ecosystems in the Eastern Pacific, but since commerce overrules ecology, the oyster farmers will keep doing everything they can do to keep up with demand for these tasty shellfish.
As for other oysters you might come across, you'll occasionally find Belons (Ostrea edulis), originally from the Brittany coast of France, or Conway Cup oysters (the Crassostrea virginica again) from Prince Edward Island, and a host of other local oysters, but these are so rare in basic large US markets they are a novelty...

(This is easy.)
Go get a oyster knife and a heavy glove.
The oyster knife is a tool with a short blunt blade, used to pry open the oyster.
Should have a non-slip handle. The glove to to keep you from slicing open you hand either with the knife (bad), or the oyster shell (worse).

(Important: Should you follow these instruction and STILL cut yourself, immediately perform routine first aid. Don't wait until you finish that last few oysters, or delay until you're finished cleaning up... Do it NOW. The infection you can get from subtidal organisms is absoultely miserable and you can wind up extremely sick in a very short amount of time. Do yourself a favor: hot water rinse, antiseptic, antibotic cream or ointment, bandage. ASAFP. I'm not kidding.)

Ok... Let's get to work.

We have a big bag of Ostreidae, (at C&C seafood on Mayport RD here in Jax Beach I get two 40lb bags for $60. Your milage might vary)
1 shucking knife for each participant
1 glove for each participant
1 large roasting pan
backyard BBQ grill (propane is best)
several bottles of dark beer
2 clean towels
1 large serving tray (big enough for the full roaster)

Heat grill to Low-medium - (You should be able to hold your hand at grate-level for 4 seconds) Put roasting pan on grill and cover to bring the temp of the pan up.

Empty 2 bottles of beer in a large bowl, then soak the towels for minute- then lightly wring them out. (Periodically resoak towels during the cooking process, adding beer as needed.)

Prepare oysters for cooking- I hit them with a high-pressure spray from the hose to get off the worst of the mud and other muck, but if you are OCD or really want to go the extra yard, you can take a scrub brush to them...

When your pan is hot, add one beer to the pan, then put in a generous layer of oysters. Cover them with the beer-soaked towel and put them back on the grill for 8 to 10 minutes or until all the oysters are open.
(If one of two don't open, pitch the unopened ones. There is something wrong with them.)

Transfer the open oysters to the serving tray, and bring them to the table for the Ravenous Hordes.

To Consume:

Select a semi-opened oyster, hold in a gloved hand,
lever the shell open with your oyster knife.
Slide the knife under the meat, scraping to make sure adductor muscles are free from the shell, and then slurp the tasty morsel straight from the half-shell. Feel free to customize your slurpage with the following:
Lemon juice,
A dab of cocktail sauce,
Malt vinegar,
or... (drumroll please)
Uncle jay's Oyster Sauce:
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard
1 tablespoon Tabasco Chipotle Pepper Sauce
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
Whisk together all ingredients in a small bowl.
Serve as a dipping sauce, or spoon 1/8 teaspoon into the shell before slurping.

One other thing,
It is considered good form for others to take turns at the grill, so everyone can enjoy the different activities of the oyster roast.

Famous, out-

*Please see the comment section in regards to this
egregious misspelling.


Anonymous said...

Gee thanks. It's nice to know how you REALLY feel about us on the semi-deserted island. By the way, you misspelled "intelligent." Karma works. Heh.

The Big Guy said...


Impulsive response:
Correct it and reject your feeble attempt at humor at my expense.

2 minute irritated response:
Oh, very nice. That's all you got? A spelling error? Gonna take me to task on my split infinitives & dangling participles too?
C'mon, if you're going to criticize, at least do it with some panache and style.
Perhaps a cutting remark in regards to my unfortunate offspring, a jibe about my being geographically challenged, and throw in a comment that reflects my propensity for dogpaddling in the shallow end of the gene pool. What? No comment about my obvious genetic mutation, the lumbering bulk that I am...?

Real response:

You know, I've always had a problem with that word... FWIW, I'm always trying to do too much at one time. Forget to run spell check on the post before I hit the publish button. I get it mixed up with "intellect"... Sorry.

Yeah. Karma's a bitch. So are her sisters- Irony and Kismet.


The Big Guy said...

Crap! I forgot the most important thing...

In regards to the denizens of DRTO, you KNOW I'm talking about a specific subclass of people...

You know...

March Hare said...

Hey, save some for me!

I've never grilled oysters, but I have had grilled clams. Same idea, only simpler: soak the clams, throw on grill, when they pop open, they're done. Eat. Drawn butter & lemon optional. The nice thing about clams is you (usually) don't cut yourself on the shells or the knife (an ordinary butter knife will do).

It's freezing (literally) out here, so grilling ~anything~ is out of the question. I'm jealous!

Anonymous said...

Touche, TBG (can't find the accented "e" on this keyboard). Chill, okay? The comment was meant to be lighter than it came out. And I would never, ever say anything cutting about your offspring who is one of the nicest people I know. Peace.

The Big Guy said...

You know me, reply in haste, repent in leisure. But I thought you'd get a kick out of my thought process.

(Read the profile- there is a reason it says "poor impulse control")

But- I'm working on it. Koschei knows I'm working on it.

Pax vobiscum-