Cook in the Moment: Fried Oysters

Oysters (c)2012 LaDomestique.com

Each week I contribute a column to the Whole Foods Market Cooking Boulder Website expanding on one of the 10 Ways Tuesday ideas. Below is the original article from this week, a mixed seafood fry-up with oysters, squid, and scallops.

The new year is a time to celebrate. Gathering with family and friends slows down the hectic pace of life for a moment. At la Domestique we begin the year with freshly shucked oysters, which are at their best right now. Reading the book, Sex, Death and Oysters by Robb Walsh, I learned about the life cycle of an oyster. During the winter months, as ocean waters get colder, oysters produce a carbohydrate called glycogen. The result is a nice sweet, plump oyster on your plate. Warm summer waters entice oysters into the reproductive cycle, and both flavor and texture suffer as the oyster puts all its energy towards procreating. The peak of oyster season is during the coldest part of the year. Since raw oysters aren’t for everyone, I thought I would share my second favorite way to enjoy the briny, delicately flavored bivalves: fried.

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10 Ways Tuesday: Oysters

Shucking Oysters (c)2011 LaDomestique.com



I’ve got creative ideas for cooking with oysters in winter:



1.  Oysters on the Half Shell

The purest way to enjoy oysters is raw, on the half shell. It’s easy to shuck oysters yourself at home, and even more fun to share the task with friends at a gathering. I like to pick up a variety of oysters from my fish monger, so everyone can taste oysters from different regions and compare their flavor. Serve freshly shucked oysters on a bed of crushed ice or rock salt. Wedges of lemon and a bottle of tabasco are all the condiments you need. For resources on buying and shucking oysters take a look at Ingredient of the Week: Oysters. I need a glass of bubbly with my oysters, but Guinness, any crisp, dry white wine, or even ice cold vodka (too strong for me, kids) are good pairings.

2.  Fried Oysters

A fried oyster is a beautiful thing- plump and juicy shellfish wrapped in a crispy flour coat. I grew up in the south, and my family made a pilgrimage every summer to the Gulf for a beach vacation. The journey often involved a po’ boy, the sandwich from Louisiana, traditionally made with fried oysters, mayo, lettuce, tomato, and baguette. This recipe from Parkway Bakery & Tavern in New Orleans (featured on Saveur) fits the bill. Fried oysters are also fantastic as part of a fritto misto, or mixed seafood fry up. The recipe for Fritto Misto Amalfitano (which I’m featuring here tomorrow) in The Young Man and the Sea is a mix of fried oysters, squid, and scallops coated in the most light and delicate flour batter and fried till golden and crisp. It’s perfect for feeding a crowd at a relaxed get together and requires nothing more than a bottle of bubbles to go with.

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Ingredient of the Week: Oysters

Oysters Banner (c)2011 LaDomestique.com

 

Happy New Year! This week at la Domestique we’re celebrating the New Year with oysters. I’m a huge fan of these sweet, briny shellfish. Bringing home a container of live oysters and serving them simply with a squeeze of lemon is such a pleasure. As I clean and shuck them, the aroma of coastal waters and sands invades my nostrils, transporting me to summers spent on the Gulf coast, beach combing. Maybe raw oysters just aren’t your thing? Don’t write them off completely. Oysters are delicious fried as part of a fritto misto or in a traditional southern po’ boy. Tomorrow is 10 Ways Tuesday here at la Domestique, and we’ll explore the interesting flavor oysters bring to Thai soups, the luxury of stuffed and baked oysters, and the simplicity of buttered oysters on toast. Keep an open mind, and maybe try something new in 2012?

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Leek & Blue Cheese Tart

Leek and Blue Cheese Tart (c)2011 LaDomestique.com

Each time I pick an ingredient of the week, there is usually one dish I become obsessed with trying. For leek week that dish is leek tart. As I scanned the internet and my cookbooks for a recipe, my obsession was fueled by pictures of flaky pastry topped with buttery leeks and melted cheese. With great difficulty, I chose Gill’s Poached Leek and Blue Cheese Tart from River Cottage Every Day. For starters, the picture of the recipe in the book (taken by Simon Wheeler) completely seduced me. I also thought the idea of poaching the leeks, then using the poaching liquid to flavor the custard in this quichey tart, was very clever. For years I’ve been a big fan of everything River Cottage, and come to rely on Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s books for solid recipes that come together with ease. His recipes are easy to adapt as the ingredient list is usually short and the instructions rely on basic cooking techniques to encourage intuitive cooking. If you’re not into blue cheese, maybe try Gruyére, goat cheese, or even a white cheddar. I went with Roth Kase Buttermilk Blue, a creamy and tangy raw milk cheese made in Wisconsin. I always taste blue cheese at the store counter, because I want to make sure to pick one that’s not too salty for cooking with.

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Cook in the Moment: Roasted Halibut & Leeks with Citrus-Chive Butter

Roasted Halibut & Leeks with Citrus-Chive Butter (c)2011 LaDomestique.com

Each week I contribute an article to the Whole Foods Market Cooking Boulder expanding on one of the 10 Ways Tuesday ideas. Below is the original article from this week, with a recipe for Roasted Halibut & Leeks with Citrus-Chive Butter. It’s a recipe from the early days of la Domestique, last spring, which I re-worked and added more photos to.

As winter solstice draws near, fresh produce can still be found under the snow. Leeks are a cold-loving allium that can be over-wintered in the garden. At the market, look for leeks with firm, white stalks and sprightly blue-green leaves. They pair beautifully with the citrus arriving at the grocery store right now. One of my favorite ways to cook with leeks is a recipe for Roasted Halibut & Leeks with Citrus-Chive Butter.

It’s a simple meal that comes together quickly, particularly suited to a weeknight supper. Leeks have a succulent quality and mild flavor that’s somewhere between chives and garlic. In this recipe parboiled leeks serve as a bed for halibut fillets, whose sweet juices seep into the crevices of the tender stalks. After only a few minutes in the oven the halibut is flaky and the leeks are meltingly tender. A quick compound butter made with citrus zest and chive placed atop the fish melts into a delicious sauce.

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