When I was in my mid twenties I lived on the East Coast and was introduced to the freshest seafood available. I helped open a fresh Seafood restaurant that had a local Oyster purveyor. He would farm, cultivate and deliver his Oysters by boat three times a week. Of Course, he would never give away his farming location, but he was popular among several other of the higher end local restaurants. For months we would creatively prepare and serve fresh Oysters in several different ways. It was a great learning opportunity for me.
The folklore that follows the Oyster is a very simple one – A man picks up a yawning Oyster, thinking it was a rock. The Oyster clamps down on his finger to close its shell. The man sucks on his finger to relieve the pain and tastes the Oyster liquor. He opens the Oyster to find that it is an edible muscle. This was the beginning of the history of the Oyster and goes back centuries. It was popular with Kings and Queens, often kept on Ice and moved over great distances to be presented to royalty. On Ice still remains the most popular way to serve Oysters. The history of the Oyster has truly a rag to riches storyline, as in the 1800′s it became a definition of class. The higher society would indulge in Champaign and Oysters, while the lower class would drink Beer with Oysters.
In the 21st Century we are very fortunate to have Oysters flown, shipped or delivered to our back door of any restaurant in North America, twelve months out of the year. In purchasing your Oysters please keep in mind the location of where your Oysters came from. As there is a big difference in Warm water Oysters compared to Cold water Oysters. Also do not be afraid to ask your salesperson, to taste one. If you are going to purchase any amount, suppliers should have confidence in their product to have you taste one. Do not be afraid to ask. After purchasing, be sure to wash the remaining sand and dirt off the outside of your Oysters. Also please purchase an Oyster knife and use a towel when opening your Oysters.
The recipe I am going to offer this month is also rich in history. As Oyster Rockefeller originated in New Orleans in 1899. There are many variations, I am simply going to give you mine.
Yields 36 Each
- 36 each – smaller Oysters
- 4 Ounces – Watercress
- 4 Ounces – Spinach
- 2 Ounces – Shallots
- 5 Ounces - Panko Breadcrumbs
- 6 Ounces – Unsalted Butter
- 2 Ounces – Applewood Smoked Bacon
- 1 Ounce – Parmesan Cheese
- 3 Ounces – Spinach
- Shuck Oysters and save Oyster “Liquor”. Put the Oyster back into the shell.
- Bake Applewood smoked Bacon in 400 degree oven for 18 minutes. Chop roughly and set aside.
- Add 3 Ounces of Butter in a large Saute pan, cook until butter turns Brown. Add Shallots, Watercress and Spinach until lightly wilted, season with Salt and Pepper. Remove from heat and Puree.
- Melt the rest of your Butter and combine with Panko Breadcrumbs and Parmesan Cheese and mix well.
- Place 3-4 pieces of chopped Bacon on top of each Oyster.
- Lightly place your Panko Breadcrumb, Parmesan mixture on top of the Oysters.
- Bake in a 400 degree oven for 6 minutes, or until golden brown.
- Remove from oven and sauce immediately your Spinach/Watercress puree.
- Place on a plate and garnish with Lemon and Red or Green Tabasco. Serve immediately!
The simple freshness supplied by all Oysters is something that everyone should try at least once! Although the texture is not for everyone, keep your intial tasting fresh and simple – ENJOY!