By Terah Wilson
Oysters have this magical mystery about them. Hidden deep beneath murky waters and out of reach to most, they have the ability to produce one of the worlds most sought after treasures; but around the Cape Fear area the oyster is hailed more for its culinary goodness than its treasure producing abilities. If you’ve ever been curious about how to cook with these enticing little sea gems then keep on reading. Thanks to some seasoned foodies we’ve compiled a list of their favorite recipes.
Our first “receipt” comes to you straight from the source – the oyster farmer. Evan Gadow comes from a long line of seamen that have made their living working the waters of the Cape Fear region. He and his family own Three Little Spats Oyster Company in Holly Ridge, NC at Stumps Sound. Gadow’s oyster farm is located near Permuda Island (of course we can’t divulge the exact location) and he calls these little beauties Permuda Island Selects.
As far as his favorite oyster “recipe” is concerned he likes to eat them straight up just as mother nature intended them to be; raw and straight from the shell. Now, this method is not for the faint of heart as some oyster lovers won’t even eat them raw, but it’s one of the best ways to experience them.
If you aren’t into eating raw oysters straight from the water we’ve got you covered with a selection of recipes.
Don’t worry, if you aren’t into eating a raw oyster straight from the water we’ve got you covered. Check out these amazing recipes!
Oysters Ida Fay – Mike Slaton, who works with Evan Gadow.
One dozen oysters
½ Cup vegetable stock
¼ Cup tomato sauce
1 tbsp olive brine
Pinch of Salt
Pinch of Red Pepper Flakes
Tabasco to taste
Chopped Parsley or Micro Greens
Combine the vegetable stock, tomato sauce, olive brine, and salt into a pot and bring to a boil. Add in oysters and steam them in the liquid until they pop open and the oyster liquor drains into the broth. This process should only take about five minutes. Next, remove from the heat and open up the oysters all the way. Discard the top shell. Loosen the oyster in the shell and place in a serving bowl. Pour the steaming broth over the oysters and garnish with a pinch of red pepper flakes, a drizzle of olive oil, and chopped parsley or micro greens. Add a dash of Tabasco if you’re feeling frisky and serve with toasted sourdough points.
Char-grilled Oysters – James Smith, owner/chef of The Fork-N-Cork
2 dozen oysters shucked and separated but left in the half shell with as much liqueur as possible. (I like to use a larger oyster with a thick shell so they don’t overcook)
1 lb unsalted butter
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup minced garlic
2 Tbsp minced shallots
1/2 Tbsp Kosher salt
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
4 lemons (halved, grilled and juiced)
1 cup grated Parmesan or Romano
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
Crusty French bread
The first “receipt” comes to you straight from the source – oyster farmer Evan Gadow. Gadow comes from a long line of seaman that have made their living working the waters of the Cape Fear region. He and his family own Three Little Spats Oyster Company in Holly Ridge, NC at Stumps Sound. The oyster farm is located near Permuda Island (of course we can’t divulge the exact location) and Gadow calls these little beauties Permuda Island Selects. His favorite way to eat them is straight up, just as mother nature intended them to be – raw and straight from the shell.
Crank the gas grill up to high or get a charcoal grill red hot. Melt butter in a pan over med heat and add all ingredients except wine and lemon juice. Cook mixture until the garlic and shallot is thoroughly softened. Add in the wine and lemon juice and bring to a soft boil for a few minutes. Next, arrange the oysters on the grill where juice won’t spill and close the lid to the grill. Grill the oysters for 1 to 2 minutes. Once the oysters start to bubble, slather them with the butter mixture. BE CAREFUL AS THE FLAMES WILL GET BIG during this slathering. Close the lid again for 1 to 2 more minutes. The bigger the oysters, the longer the cook time which is why I go with bigger oysters so there’s a little room for error whereas the tiny ones will just cook to death quickly. Lift the grill lid and sprinkle with cheese and parsley and close for maybe 1 more minute. Somewhere in between, coat French bread with butter mixture and grill slightly till crunchy.
Hillbilly Oysters – Abbye McGee, mastermind behind www.saltandcharm.com
1/2 cup roasted tomatoes, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon minced red onion
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
2 additional tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup minced Vidalia onion
14 ounces collard greens, tough stems remove and the leaves roughly chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 dozen oysters on the half shell
1/4 cup Jiffy cornbread, cooked and crumbed
To make the tomato relish:
Combine the tomatoes, red onion, 2 tablespoons olive oil and S+P to taste.
To make the creamed collards:
In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add the Vidalia onions and cook for about 3 minutes, until softened. Add the collards and cook about 4-5 minutes. Stir occasionally. Season to taste and remove from heat. Squeeze out as much excess moisture as possible and then set aside.
Combine the cream, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 cup water in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Transfer the hot cream to a food processor and add the cooked collards. Puree and then adjust the seasoning if needed. Set aside. (you can make this up 2-3 days in advance and store in the fridge until ready to use)
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees or heat up your grill to medium high heat. Cover two rimmed baking sheets with rock salt to keep the oysters in place. Arrange the oysters in their half shells on the salt. If your oysters aren’t super briny, season them lightly with kosher salt. If they are briny, skip this step. Top each oyster with 1-2 teaspoons of the collard mixture. Transfer to the oven or your grill and cook for 6-8 minutes, until they just start to bubble around the edges.
Top each with 1/2 teaspoon of the tomato relish and some of the cornbread crumbs. Enjoy!
Catch Dirty South Oysters – Chef Keith Rhodes of Catch Restaurant
12 shucked oysters on the 1/2 shell
2 cups of cooked collards or spinach
3 slices of bacon cut into fourths
2 cups of prepared pimento cheese
2 cups of dry cornbread stuffing
1 cup of Parmesan Cheese
Place oysters on baking sheet lined with crinkled aluminum foil. Top oysters with the following in said order: 1tbsp collards ½, tbsp pimento cheese, 1/2 tbsp cornbread stuffing, 1 piece of bacon, and 1 tsp Parmesan cheese. At this point you may cook them in a pre-heated oven at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes or you can freeze and enjoy at another time!