True Flavor of the Sea
“He was a bold man that first ate an oyster.” Those words of Jonathan Swift offer the expectation of something intrinsically off-putting about the act of consuming those famous mollusks. Certainly, difficulties in opening the things aside, there is no other seafood so polarizing. Some will only touch them in a cooked state, probably fried, while others know the true joy of devouring the raw bivalves from the half-shell, one after another. Thanks to that first man, or woman, we have known the true flavor of the sea.
Here in Acadiana, we know the joys of eating oysters and may even be spoiled by both the abundance and quality of products in the many local harvest areas. Our proximity to some of the best oyster grounds in the world puts those of us who lust for the fresh, briny bites at an advantage. And with the advent of new farming methods, our options and consumption continue to grow.
It used to be that nearly all oysters spent their entire lives in the same beds. Now, there is an increasingly popular alternative to harvesting wild oysters that may just produce more and better oysters than ever before. It’s a quiet revolution called off-bottom farming. In general, it means that the oysters are grown in baskets or cages that keep them up off the bottom of the water. Advantages to this new method include a faster growth rate as well as rounder, deeper and stronger shells, resulting in better oyster meat.
No matter if you eat them fried, grilled, or raw with mignonette one thing is for certain, you will know the true flavor of the sea.
Japanese Plum Mignonette
2 cups Japanese plum, pitted and chopped 1 cup minced shallots
½ jalapeño 1½ cups rice wine vinegar ½ cup water 1 teaspoon salt ¼ cups sugar 2 teaspoons mustard seeds 1 teaspoon coriander
- In a medium bowl, add plum, shallot, and jalapeño. In a large nonreactive pot, combine remaining ingredients. Bring to boil, and cook, stirring until salt and sugar dissolve. Pour over plum mixture. Let stand until room temperature. Cover and refrigerate.
Pickled Pear Mignonette
2 Asian pears, peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 cups unseasoned rice vinegar
½ cup water 2 tablespoons sugar 2 tablespoons kosher salt 1 (4-inch piece) ginger, peeled, thinly sliced 1 small red or green chile, thinly sliced 2 teaspoons whole, black peppercorns 1 teaspoon gochugaru (Korean red pepper powder) or crushed red pepper 3 shallots, minced
- In a large bowl, add pear. In a small saucepan, combine remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand until warm. Pour vinegar mixture over pear. Let stand for 30 minutes. Cover and chill.
1¾ cups strawberries, diced 3 shallots, minced
2 tablespoons sugar 1 teaspoon salt ½ cup water ¾ cup white balsamic vinegar or Champagne vinegar 1 tablespoon pink peppercorns 1 Thai chili, split
- In a large bowl, combine strawberry and shallot. In a nonreactive pot, combine remaining ingredients. Bring to boil, and stir until salt and sugar are dissolved. Pour liquid over strawberry mixture. Let cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate.
Recipes compliments of Ashley Roussel.