Photos by VANDA LEWIS
As the eldest of three girls, I’ve always been the most adventurous with food — especially seafood. I always was the first to try shrimp, lobster, fried crawdads and any sushi I could get my hands on. Growing up close to the southern California coast, I took advantage of the easy access I had to fresh seafood.
But it wasn’t until I moved across the country to North Carolina that I learned of the complex process of how the seafood I’ve always enjoyed made its way to me from the coast.
Most of what I’ve learned about seafood has come from working with North Carolina Sea Grant due to the team’s partnerships with fishing communities and industries. These glimpses of what it takes to make seafood available throughout the state have changed my own perspective about seafood, and have reinforced my interest in N.C. seafood.
I’ve become particularly interested in oysters. Wild harvest boosts the bivalves’ availability during the fall and winter seasons.
Whether on the West or East coast, or anywhere in between, these oyster recipes from Mariner’s Menu: 30 Years of Fresh Seafood Ideas are sure to impress even the least adventurous holiday guest with their fresh simplicity.
GARLIC BUTTER OYSTERS
- 24 oysters in shell
- 2 teaspoons pressed or minced garlic
- 4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 4 tablespoons fresh bread crumbs
Shuck oysters and reserve deeper shells. Combine garlic and parsley. Place oysters in reserved shells in a bed of rock salt. Place 1/2 teaspoon garlic/parsley mix on top of each oyster. Place 1/2 teaspoon crumbs over each. Top each with 1/4 teaspoon butter. Broil about 4 inches from heat source until oysters are done and crumbs are brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Serves 4.
BAKED OYSTERS WITH BACON
- 2 dozen large unshucked oysters
- 6 slices bacon
- 1 cup fresh cracker crumbs
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onion, including tops
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- rock salt
Scrub oysters with stiff brush under cold, running water. Shuck, reserving deep half of shells. Drain oysters.
Cut bacon slices into quarters. Cook until limp, but not brown.
In small bowl, combine crumbs, mayonnaise, onion, lemon juice, Tabasco and mustard.
Place deep layer of rock salt in bottom of large pan or baking dish. Arrange reserved shells in rock salt, being sure that they are level. Place one oyster in each shell. Spread crumb mixture over each. Top with a piece of bacon, then sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 450 F until bacon is crisp and oysters are done, about 8 to 10 minutes. Serves 4 to 6.
GOLDEN FRIED OYSTERS
- 1 pint select oysters
- 1/2 tablespoon sake (rice wine)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 2 eggs, beaten
- vegetable oil for frying
Drain oysters. Place in bowl and mix with sake; let stand about 5 minutes. Remove and pat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roll in four, shaking off excess.
Dip oysters in egg and place in oil in large heavy skillet. Cook at 375 F until golden brown on one side, about 1 to 2 minutes.
Turn and repeat on other side. Drain on paper towels. Serves 4 to 6.