I plan to enjoy time in the upcoming New Year trying new recipes, searching out and cooking with ingredients I’m not familiar with, reading entertaining cookbooks and participating in a dinner club. I might even spend time this summer helping out at a lodge sharing our Alaska cuisine with tourists. At the top of my list, though, is to be able to cook with family and friends. I love spending time in the kitchen, as it’s my happy place and to share it is always a joy. How are you planning to spice up the culinary part of your life? Send me an email — I’d love to know.
The accessibility we have to sustainable fresh seafood and fish and locally grown produce makes my culinary ambitions easy and fun in our beautiful and charming seaside community.
The oysters farmed in Kachemak Bay are some of the best anywhere, I would like to think. Their clean, sweet taste reflects the environment they are raised in and the hard work, love and pride our oyster farmers put into bringing them to your table.
Oysters Rockefeller were created in New Orleans, at the legendary Antoine’s. The restaurant refuses to give a recipe, but we do know that neither bacon nor spinach is involved. Instead, the oysters are topped with a roux full of herbs and vegetables, then combined with breadcrumbs and broiled until the bivalves are tender and a delicate crust forms on top.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
• Rock salt, as needed
• 12 oysters, chilled
• 4 tbsp. butter
• 4 tbsp. flour
• 1⁄4 tsp. cayenne
• 3 scallions, minced
• 2 ribs celery, minced
• 2 sprigs tarragon, stemmed and minced
• 1 bunch Italian parsley, stemmed and minced, plus sprigs to garnish
• Kosher salt and freshly ground white pepper, to taste
• 3 tbsp. fresh breadcrumbs
• 3 tbsp. finely grated fresh parmesan
• 3 drops of anise extract or 2 teaspoons Pernod
1. Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees.
2. Fill 2 ovenproof baking dishes halfway with rock salt. Dampen the salt lightly with water.
3. Shuck oysters over a bowl to catch their liquor (you should have about 1⁄2 cup), discarding flat top shells. Loosen oysters from bottom shells with a knife. Nestle 6 shucked oysters in their shells into each bed of rock salt; chill.
4. Melt butter in a 2-qt. saucepan over medium heat. Add flour; cook until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add oyster liquor; cook until thickened to a paste, about 2 minutes. Stir in cayenne, scallions, celery, tarragon, parsley, and salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook until soft, about 1 hour. Transfer to a food processor, add breadcrumbs, and process into a smooth paste, about 2 minutes. Stir in parmesan and anise or Pernod.
4. Place paste in a pastry bag fitted with a 1⁄2” fluted tip. Pipe paste completely over oysters. Alternately, spoon paste over oysters and smooth. Bake until paste begins to brown, and oysters are just cooked through, about 5-7 minutes. Serve with lemon wedges and red pepper sauce.
Southern Fried Oysters with Sriracha Rémoulade
These crispy oysters are coated in nutty cornmeal and served with a spicy Sriracha-spiked rémoulade. Maintaining the temperature of the frying oil will guarantee perfectly crispy oysters.
Yield: about 20 oysters
• 1/2 cup mayonnaise
• 2 tablespoons Sriracha
• 1 scallion, finely chopped
• 1 1/2 teaspoons cilantro, finely chopped
• 1 teaspoon lime juice
• 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
• 1 cup cornstarch
• 1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
• 1/4 teaspoon chile powder
• 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
• 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
• 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
• 1 egg
• 1 tablespoon water
• 2 cups (about 20) shucked oysters, drained
• Vegetable oil for frying
• Lime slices for garnish
Make the Sriracha rémoulade: in a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, Sriracha, scallions, cilantro, lime juice, and garlic. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
Make the oysters: in a large bowl, mix together the cornstarch, cornmeal, chile powder, garlic powder, salt, and thyme. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and water. Dip 1 oyster in the cornstarch mixture and shake off any excess coating. Dip in the egg wash, then dip in the cornstarch mixture again, shaking off any excess coating. Reserve on a plate. Repeat with the remaining oysters.
Pour a half-inch of vegetable oil into a cast-iron skillet. Heat to 370°F. Working in batches, fry the oysters until golden brown and crispy, about 1 minute per side. Transfer fried oysters to a paper towel–lined platter to drain. Be sure to let the temperature of the oil return to 370°F before frying a new batch. Serve immediately with the lime slices and Sriracha rémoulade on the side.
As a kid, I remember on Christmas Eve Mom would lovingly prepare this for Dad. He enjoyed it so very much. We kids loved the little oyster crackers served with it.
“If there is a traditional Christmas Eve dish in the United States, it is oyster stew.” –James Beard
Yield: 4 servings
• 5 tablespoons butter
• 1 cup milk
• 2 cups cream
• 1 1/2 pints oysters and liquor
• Salt and freshly ground pepper
• Chopped parsley or paprika
Heat soup bowls. Add a good pat of butter to each bowl. Keep piping hot. Drain the oysters, then heat the milk, cream, and oyster liquor to the boiling point. Add the oysters and bring again to the boiling point. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and cayenne. Ladle into the hot bowls and add a sprinkling of chopped parsley or of paprika.
Variation: Sautéed Oyster Stew:
Combine the oysters and butter in a skillet and cook until the edges of the oysters’ curl. Add the hot cream and milk and bring to the boiling point. Season, ladle into hot bowls, and serve with oyster crackers.
Happy New Year! I wish you all a healthy, prosperous upcoming year full of good times and good food.