Every escabeche I’d encountered before seemed to have a lot going on: slivered vegetables, chiles, various seasonings in addition to the vinegar-heavy base. But while in Galicia in northwest Spain, I tasted the local mussels en escabeche and the dish was blessedly simple and outrageously delicious: olive oil, a touch of vinegar, paprika. It inspired this approach with oysters, which makes a wonderful appetizer or cocktail snack.
This is a recipe for which the spice’s freshness is paramount, particularly a spice like paprika that is relatively mellow to begin with. This may be the perfect time to invest in some fresh paprika; I buy bulk spices in smaller portions that I’m likely to go through pretty quickly. In place of regular sweet paprika (which means “not spicy” in this case, as for “sweet” bell peppers), you can also use Spanish smoked paprika.
For marinating the oysters, choose a small, squat dish in which the oysters will be fully covered by the marinade, ideally one with a tight-fitting lid so you can just shake gently now and then to ensure even marinating.
Makes 6 to 8 servings
For the marinade:
1 cup olive oil, plus more if needed
1 tablespoon sweet paprika (regular or smoked)
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1 bay leaf, preferably fresh, torn into 3 or 4 pieces
1 teaspoon kosher salt
24 small oysters in their shells, shells well rinsed, or jarred yearling to extra-small oysters, with their liquor
Crackers or sliced baguette, for serving
In a small saucepan over low heat, stir together the oil and paprika and warm for about 15 minutes to draw the paprika flavor into the oil. Take the pan from the heat and let it cool for 5 to 10 minutes, then stir in the vinegar, bay leaf, and salt. Set the marinade aside.
If using in-shell oysters, steam them open, 5 to 10 minutes. While still warm, but not too hot to handle, remove the oysters from the shells (some shells may not have fully opened, so you will need a shucking knife to help here) and add them to the marinade. Stir to be sure the marinade is evenly coating the oysters and set aside just until cooled to room temperature.
If using jarred oysters, put the oysters and their liquor in a small saucepan and warm, stirring gently now and then, until the oysters plump up and their edges curl, 4 to 5 minutes. Set the pan aside for a few minutes to cool a bit, then lift the oysters from the pan with a slotted spoon and add them to the marinade. Stir to be sure the marinade is evenly coating the oysters and set aside just until cooled to room temperature.
Transfer the cooled oysters and marinade to a medium nonreactive container; the oysters should be fully submerged in the marinade; add a bit more oil if needed. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or longer if the oysters are on the bigger side. The oysters can marinate for up to 3 days before serving. Stir now and then to reblend the seasonings and ensure even marinating.
To serve, allow the oysters to come to room temperature. Discard the bay leaf. Transfer the oysters to a serving dish, drizzle some of the marinade over, and serve with crackers or baguette alongside.
Bay is rarely among the fresh herbs tucked into our window boxes or backyard gardens. But when I needed some fresh bay to test a recipe about twenty years ago, I bought a little four-inch pot of the herb, used what I needed for the recipe, and transplanted it to my patio garden. I still have that same bay—now a small tree—and can’t tell you the last time I used a dried bay leaf. Dried bay has its place in stocks and stews, but fresh bay has a whole different character, with more vivid flavor that is almost reminiscent of nutmeg. Use it as you would dry bay, though it is versatile enough to even use in desserts.
(* Reproduced with permission from Oysters: Recipes that Bring Home a Taste of the Sea -Sasquatch Books. 2016- by Cynthia Nims, Photography by Jim Henkens)
After Elegance for Dessert with Lacquered Peaches from Lark' Cooking Wild in the Northwest' Cookbook (Sasquatch Books, August 2016) by chef John Sundstrom, here's a helping of fish as secomd recipe from the book
Nettles Galore, April in Whidbey Island,
Neah Bay Halibut with Creamed Nettles and Morels
For a few weeks in April, we have a lovely convergence of spring delights: fresh halibut, young and tender stinging nettles, and the first true morels of the season. I bring them together in this bright, earthy, and creamy dish. After months of root vegetables and cabbage we Northwesterners are craving something green, and usually the first stinging nettles fill the void. At Lark I have a network of hard-working foragers who bring them right to me, but nettles grow wild all over. Whidbey Island’s bucolic setting is known for having nettles galore, and many a part-time forager takes revenge on this weed. They do sting, so use tongs to move them from the storage container to the pan for cooking. Cooking removes the stinging properties. Nettles are highly nutritious, full of vitamins and minerals, and delicious. And if this is all just too much, spinach is a great substitute.
MAKES 4 SERVINGS
1½ pounds halibut fillets (or cheeks), cut into 6-ounce portions
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
¼ pound morels, trimmed, washed, dried, and sliced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
½ pound stinging nettles, picked and washed
2 tablespoons dry white wine
¾ cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon minced chives, for finishing
1- Season the halibut on both sides with salt and pepper.
2-Heat the oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the halibut fillets and cook on one side until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Turn them over gently and use a spoon to baste the fillets. Continue cooking until they are just cooked through and translucent in the center, 2 to 3 more minutes. Transfer the halibut to a warm plate until ready to serve.
3-In a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Add the morels with a pinch of salt and pepper and cook them until just soft and tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes until softened but not browned. Using tongs, add the nettles to the pan and stir them into the morels and garlic. Add the wine to deglaze the pan and let it reduce slightly. Stir in the cream and adjust seasoning to taste. Simmer until the cream has reduced to a slightly thickened sauce. Adjust seasoning to taste.
4-To serve, spoon the creamed nettles and morels onto a serving platter. Place the halibut on top and garnish with the chives.
CHEF’S NOTE: When cleaning morels, it is best to use a brush or towel to gently remove the dirt. Sometimes they can be especially dirty and hard to clean completely with a brush and need to be washed in water.It is important not to soak them; dunk them in the water, toss them around briefly and then dry immediately in a salad spinner before laying them out on paper towels.
Be very careful when handling the stinging nettles. At Lark we double up on latex gloves when cleaning them.
(* Recipe (c)2016 by Johnathan Sundstrom. All rights reserved. Excerpted from Lark: Cooking Wild in the Northwest by permission of Sasquatch Books, Photography by Zack Bent)
It's hard to squeeze the essence of 315 pages of 400 Years of Drinking in American South narrated Deftly by Robert F. Moss in Southern Spirits (Ten Speed Press, Hardcover, April 12, 2016)
Best thing I could do is give you a taste of it.
Don't expect to find a book full of cocktail recipes between the covers of 'Southern Spirits'. It is a serious expose on history of '400 years of drinking in the American South' with a sprinkling of recipes. Book opens with description of failure of beer and wine in colonists early years. Barley brought from England was worm infested after weeks at sea.