February 27, 2013

Oysters beyond Rockefeller

Raw shellfish lovers may object, but there's a lot to be said for cooking the meat. Oyster pie, anyone?

By C. W. Cameron / McClatchy Newspapers

(Continued from page 1)

Oysters beyond Rockefeller
click image to enlarge

Oysters Alexander, foreground, and oyster pie. Only five species of oysters are harvested for eating. “The oyster from the Chesapeake Bay is the same species of oyster as the one from the Delaware Bay and on up to Maine and New Brunswick, Canada,” explains seafood wholesaler Robert Pidgeon. “The flavor variation comes from the season, the salinity of the water they’re growing in and even the way the tides fluctuate. There are any number of variables that determine that oyster’s flavor.”

McClatchy Newspapers photos

Oysters beyond Rockefeller
click image to enlarge

Fried oyster salad.

Oysters in the shell don't come with a "sell by" date so it's important to buy from a reputable source.

"By law, the retailer must have the shellfish tag for the oysters they're selling, which includes the harvest area and date of harvest. You can ask to see that and plan to eat your oysters within 14 days of harvest," said Pidgeon.

OYSTER PIE

Total time: 30 minutes

Servings: Six

This variation on scalloped oysters is called a "pie" because you bake it in a dish large enough that the oyster mixture is very shallow and the wide top surface provides every bite with a mix of the creamed oysters and crunchy topping. Murphy uses Ritz Crackers in this recipe.

2 pints shucked oysters with their liquor

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

¼ cup sliced celery

¼ cup chopped onion

2 cups finely crushed crackers, divided

¾ cup milk

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1/8 teaspoon pepper

½ cup grated cheddar, divided

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 10-inch pie plate or other ovenproof baking dish.

Carefully check oysters for bits of shell. In a medium saucepan, heat oysters and their liquor over medium heat just until edges being to curl, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and drain. Discard liquid and set oysters aside.

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter and add celery and onion. Saute vegetables until just tender, about 3 minutes. Add 1½ cups crushed crackers, milk, parsley, garlic, lemon juice, pepper and ¼ cup cheddar. Stir in oysters and pour mixture into prepared baking dish.

In a small bowl, combine remaining ½ cup crushed crackers with remaining ¼ cup cheddar and sprinkle over oyster mixture. Bake 10 minutes or just until top turns light brown. Serve immediately.

Adapted from a recipe provided by Vicky Murphy, Inland Seafood.

Per serving: 455 calories (47 percent from fat), 19 g protein, 40 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber, 24 g fat (13 g saturated), 144 mg cholesterol, 277 mg sodium.

FRIED OYSTER SALAD

Total time: 15 minutes

Servings: Four

Vegetable oil, for frying

24 small- to medium-size oysters, shucked

2 egg whites

1 cup all-purpose flour

½ cup cornmeal

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

½ pound arugula

Lemon dressing (see recipe)

Lemon wedge, for garnish

In a deep skillet, heat ¼ inch vegetable oil to very hot.

While oil is heating, whisk egg whites together in a pie plate and set aside.

In another pie plate, whisk together flour, cornmeal, salt and pepper.

When oil is ready, dip each oyster into egg whites, drain and then roll into flour mixture. Be sure all sides of oyster are coated with flour. Shake lightly to remove excess flour and carefully arrange in hot oil. When arranging oysters in pan, begin at outer edge and lay oysters in a ring around outside of pan. Place a few oysters in the center. Do not crowd pan. When you finish laying out the oysters, the first ones will be ready to turn. Turn all oysters and cook just until they turn golden brown, about 2 minutes total. Remove from oil and drain. Keep warm and continue with remaining oysters if needed.

Divide arugula among serving plates. Arrange oysters on top of arugula and drizzle with lemon dressing. Serve immediately.

Discard remaining egg whites and flour mixture.

Adapted from a recipe provided by Vicky Murphy, Inland Seafood.

Per serving: 470 calories (56 percent from fat), 11 g protein, 41 g carbohydrates, 3 g fiber, 29 g fat (4 g saturated), 28 mg cholesterol, 627 mg sodium.

(Continued on page 3)

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