Monday, December 24, 2018

It Wouldn't be Christmas Without the Lowly Oyster

 As a family ritual, passed down from generation to generation, the only thing anyone knows is that it goes back long before any of us remember. Our grandparents said it dated back many generations before theirs.  "It" is the humble Christmas Eve oyster stew dinner.

Oysters, freshly shucked, with their liquor. Some variation of whole milk/cream to your liking. A minced shallot.  Butter, lots of butter. A touch of cayenne. A little chopped parsley for serving. A little salt, not much, and plenty of white pepper (black won't do).  Serve that up with a thick slice of French bread and that's dinner.

Beautiful B.C. oysters from Fanny Bay, a half hour drive north of my place.  As fresh as you can get them without sitting on the beach yourself with a shucking knife.

My brother lives in Simcoe, Ontario. His oysters aren't quite as fresh as mine but they are from Fanny Bay. He too will be tucking into this once a year delight. And, in contemplation of doing the same myself in a matter of hours, I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas.


John B. said...

I would like some too.

Many thanks for your efforts.


The Mound of Sound said...

Hey, John. Thanks. All the best to you and yours.

John's Aghast said...

We put them in a pastry shell and call them 'Oyster Patties'. Bin doing it for almost 80 years. Grandparents were from England.
Merry Christmas to you, and thanks for all your work!

Anonymous said...

We use lobster. Merry Christmas and a Merrier New Year. Cheers, Anyong

the salamander said...

.. we (my son and I) have a thing for oysters.. big time. We can get a box of 33 PEI Malpeques for 15.00 on sale or 19.00 regular and we both have serious oyster knives, as the malpeque are a wicked hard nut to crack.. payoff is the lovely briny hit. We have yet to get into baking oysters or making a chowder, but when I do, it will include sweet Ontario kernal corn too. The chowder at Tofino remains the supreme champ - cannot recall the establishment but anyone who's had it agrees. We also are huge fans of linguini with baby clam sauce, finely diced served at Grazi - Eglinton and Yonge. I bought the Grazi cookbook just to be able to emulate it.. not to mention their caesar salad. King salmon in season is another fave.. and wild caught sockeye from BC, wild from Alaska and any smoked salmon is a weekly grab. If you get a chance, white Lake Erie perch - Port Dover is another fave, pan fried, skin on - the filets are approx 1 lb at most and two sides, quite the treat, especially at 7$ a lb ! A quick aside.. a great Caesar is a super addition.. that's the liquid one, not the salad.. we likes em spicy & salted rim, with horseradish, and mysterious dark sauces.. oyster already popped.. dash o horseradish, but never the 1st one.. that's always au naturale. We like our lobster.. tails or the entire beasty.. the dude from Maine who invented lobster roll does a great Youtube on how to take em apart snd eat in the right order. Love crab but not so much as oysters & we have crab cakes weekly.. yum. Having run several shellfish bars, there aint many oysters I aint sampled.. Will revisit rhe west coasters.. they're cultivated I assume ?

The Mound of Sound said...

@ JA - "oyster patties" Hmm, I'll have to look into that. Thanks, John, and Merry Christmas.

The Mound of Sound said...

Anyong, good to hear from you. I was wondering where you had been. Hmmm, lobster. The only seafood that best lobster, at least for me, is king crab. Merry Christmas.

The Mound of Sound said...

Hey, Sal. Like you, I'm very fond of Malpeques. I'm also fond of Kumamotos and Miyagis from Japan. Like the Malpeque they're smaller and have a more delicate flavour than the traditional Pacific oyster we farm around here. I'm not crazy about cooked oysters but the meaty Pacific is ideal for oyster stew.

When my parents wintered in Panama City Beach, Florida, I got my fill of delicious oysters from Appalachacola Bay. There were several varieties and they tended to be similar to Malpeques. Before the Spring Break season there were a couple of bars my dad and I would frequent. We would each have two pints of beer accompanied by three dozen oysters on the half shell. The oysters, fresh shucked and served with all the fixings, were priced at a dollar a dozen. Three dozen oysters is a delightful way to while away an afternoon telling each other outrageous lies. Terrific memories.

Merry Christmas, Sal. Let us hope for good things for 2019.

the salamander said...

.. your brother in Simcoe is a short hop from Port Dover and the white perch (non-sustainable - ie alien) Yellow perch is 3 times the price of the white, but native. Also, a dude from the Maritimes bought up Simcoe swampland & brought in some bulldozers.. locals laughed. but he'd realized he could cultivate fiddlehead greens... mmn mm ! Pan fry some scallops or the perch with steamed fiddleheads? .. and you've gone to heaven.

Dollar a dozen oysters ? Get outta here ! Must check out the two Japanese variations for sure. That sounds like Stone Crab territory you were wintering in.. never had em.. but back in the day a lot of crawdaddy were pinched by moi. These days I get shrimp, legs, tail and head on.. for 5.99 at Danforth Grocery, sometimes some yellow grouper. Turks & Caicos at Ricky's Flamingo Bar beside Club Med is the go to for steamed grouper and the finest bone fishing on the planet is south side of Provo (Providentiales) and the spiny lobster about 2 lbs, no bigger, just slays. When not in season (about 10 weeks its in season) no lobster may be served on the islands.. not even frozen.. nsda, nothing. Super idea for a marine paradise.

If you come across the name of the Tofino place with the astonishing clam chowder, pass it on my way.. as I recall, it had an eyeline to Mears, or in that general direction. A kindly old German merchant mariner befriended us there, many moons ago.. and he smoked his own Black Alaskan Cod in his backyard smoker.. whew that was a delicacy ! We love our steak once a week.. but seafood outranks it consumption wiseby far.. and anything Cajun.. whether cornbread, Jambalaya, Boulliabase, Paella.. or TexMex.. like a zinger fish burrito

Same your way - from the flatlands.. home of Rodneys oysters (now on King St West near Bathurst) & Rock the Casbah in 2019

Jay Farquharson said...

The Shelter gets 4 stars,
The Schooner get’s 4 stars,
The Ice House get’s 4.5 stars,

The Schooner’s the one that was there before Tofino was “trendy”, so I’m gonna go with The Schooner.

Ate there every day on my honeymoon, 40 some years ago. All the seafood was great.

The Mound of Sound said...

Merry Christmas to you, Jay. Never a dull moment.

The Mound of Sound said...

No, Sal, you misread what I wrote. Dollar a dozen, yes, but freshly shucked and served with all the fixings including seafood sauce and two vinaigrettes, one of them a raspberry concoction.

Dollar a dozen. That was then but I'm sure it is no longer. Still there was a real joyousness at getting oysters, a dollar a dozen, each dozen, every dozen. I'm still not sure how I had the sense to stop after three dozen. Probably fear of the wrath of my mother had I passed on her dinner.

As for Tofino, Jay's knowledge borders on encyclopedic.

Thanks to all. Without you I wouldn't bother.

Jay Farquharson said...

Merry Christmas to you and yours, Mound,

There some good still out there: