Archives for posts with tag: oysters

After two intensely busy days at work, I wanted to have something comforting and relaxing for dinner. Not like soup, but in the sense that after you finish it, you think…”that was a real meal”.So I decided to make my version of Surf and Turf, with some steak, shrimp and oysters.

I’ve only started shucking my own oysters at home since Aug. 2011, and since then, I’ve gotten a lot of practice. I’ve learned that un-shucked oysters can survive for a few days in your fridge; that in opening the oyster, the technique should be quick and gentle, putting force when it’s needed, not brute-forcing it; that the oyster may carry little tiny crabs (usually dead) that lives in them, but they are quite harmless (just don’t eat them!)

I’ve posted before about opening a oyster, and there are a lot of good instructional videos on how to open oysters, so I’m not going to go into details here. All you really need is a good oyster knife, a clean towel, and a steady grip.

You always want to buy a few more than you are planning to serve, since some might be dead (although I’ve only run into this once), and others may take longer to open, if you are short on time. To tell if the Oyster is dead, you should look to see if it’s flesh is dry. Live oysters should have a lot of liquid in them, and dead ones will be very dry. Just because the shell is tight doesn’t always mean that the oyster is alive. Also if the oyster smells bad, it’s probably dead, but don’t confuse the smell of the sea to being bad though.

I shucked the oysters last, while my steak was resting. For the steak, I chose a nice piece of rib eye that was a little over 1LB. Rib eyes are tasty because they are a fattier cut of steak, and I like them because they are a lot more affordable than Filet Mignons. I simply seasoned my rib eye with some salt and pepper.

And tossed it on a hot pan. I would’ve liked to grilled the steak, but it had been raining in Austin none stop for two days, and no signs of stopping. Also pan roasting a steak does cut down on the setting up and cleaning up time for if you were to use a charcoal grill.

My problem with cooking steak before is I always jump the gun before the steak is done, because of the nice browning I see on each side. Steaks cooking times that you see online are actually quite accurate, so no matter how done a steak you think it looks, most of the time you want to follow the instructions. Keep in mind a cast iron pan conducts heat a lot better, and that a gas stove produces hotter heat than an electric stove, so you may have to adjust your heat accordingly.

I followed the cooking instructions very closely for this steak, which is approximately 6 minutes on first side, 4 on second side (I accidentally went over the 5 minute per side time, so I evened it out), for 10 minutes total, but I was still nervous about if the steak would be cooked right for medium rare.

I let the steak rest for 5 minutes, so the juice can reconstitute.

When it was ready for carving, I cut into it and it looked perfect.

To go with the steak, I made pan roasted baby Yukon potatoes, which can be left at room temp for 4 hours, and warmed in the oven before serving. The potatoes are boiled until tender, about 8 minutes, then roasted on a hot pan with some onions and rosemary until golden.

Finally, to finish off the “Surf” part of the meal, I made a Grilled shrimp dish, again pan roasting instead of grilling.

First some green scallions are blanched in a pot of boiling water for 30 seconds, until bright green. I did this at the same time that I was boiling the potatoes to save water. Then the green scallions are rubbed with olive oil, salt, and pepper, then grilled on a hot pan.

The onions are removed after about a minute or so, after the stalks are nicely browned, and then cut into 2 inch lengths.

Next I julienned half of a Granny Smith apple, and tossed it with a dressing made out of smoked spanish paprika, olive oil, sherry vinegar, and Dijon mustard.

Then I “Grilled” the shrimp on the hot pan that I cooked the steak and the green scallions in, about 1 minute per side.

Finally, I mixed the green scallions and the seasoned apple together, spread them out on a plate, topped with the cooked shrimp, drizzled some additional dressing on top, and sprinkled the dish with some toasted sesame seeds.

We paired the dinner with a bottle of red Cotes Du Rhone, and had left over cake from Tuesday’s dinner party for dessert.

It felt like a restaurant dinner at my home.

Grilled Shrimp with Apple and Charred Scallions: http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/grilled-shrimp-with-apple-and-charred-scallions
Pan-roasted fingerling potatoes (I left out the Pancetta): http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/pan-roasted-fingerling-potatoes-with-pancetta

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It was a Monday evening around 5pm, dinner for 2 suddenly turned into dinner for 4 or 5. The additional guests also include one who did not eat red meat, and it’s all going down at 7PM. Thankfully, I had planned to make Linguine alle Vongole (Linguine with fresh clams) to begin with, and all I had to do was get a whole loaf of bread, and pull together a simple salad to make it work for a few more people.

I also bought some fresh oysters on a whim at Central Market, which I thought would be a good appetizer. The challenging part now is shucking these suckers.

There are a lot of information online about how to shuck an oyster. The one that worked for me, which I’ve gone back to pretty much every time I have to shuck oysters for a refresher, is a 4 minute long youtube video from a seafood chef from Boston.

I bought a dozen of oysters and was only able to shuck 8 on the first day, because my guests were arriving and I was running a little behind. The unshucked oyster will keep in the fridge for at least 1 day (and maybe longer), you only need to rinse and scrub them in tap water before you shuck them. Some people suggest putting the oysters in the freezer for a few minutes before shucking but I’ve not tried that.

As for the main course, I had made this recipe before and I loved the simplicity of it. Fresh Clams, white wine, parsley, olive oil, tomatoes, and a large pinch of red pepper flakes if you prefer a bite. The sauce is excellent for dipping with bread as well.

I cooked the pasta about 2 minutes less than the box suggestion for al-dente (which would come to 5 minutes for the linguine), then I drained it, tossed it in the sauce to finish up cooking. The clams will take around 7 minutes to fully open, so I would usually set the pasta water boiling before hand, make the sauce, then put the pasta in the water about 5 minutes before the sauce is timed to finish. Otherwise either your pasta gets cooked to early or your clam sauce is too done. Also when you watch cooking shows you always see people tasting the food, you want to do that as much as you can during the cooking process. Wondering if your pasta is done? taste it. Need more salt? taste it first before you add the salt. It’s the best thing cooks can do to gauge their cooking since your food is changing constantly as you cook it.

Youtube video for shucking oysters: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uy-rbEXFwLw
Linguine with Clams Recipe: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Linguine-with-Clams-em-Linguine-con-le-Vongole-em-350683