Food & Drink

I'm Chris - or Christopher - or Mr. Dean - or Master Christopher - or just plain Sir. I'm a self-professed foodie. I love to cook and I take great pleasure in all things edible. My husband and I are relatively new to Portland, Oregon and are enjoying our culinary explorations of the area!

Food is NOT just fuel!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Hands-On Seafood Feast

After much internal debate, I decided on seafood for our anniversary dinner.  Last year I learned how to shuck oysters in a French Bistro cooking class, and ever since then I try to find any reason to shuck.  It's fun - nothing like working for your food!  As I perused the seafood section I found some boiled crawfish - I would have LOVED to find some fresh ones, but alas none were available.  That didn't stop me from grabbing a bag full of the pre-boiled ones (and then running home to find out online how to exactly tear them apart and eat them correctly - I'd only ever had the meat before, never shelled them).

In the frozen section I found some snails - they never have fresh snails either, something I've not yet cooked from start to finish.  But I've had these frozen escargot before, and they are delicious - filled with a wonderful herb butter.

And finally, to round out all the seafood, four massive king crab legs!

I got to work as soon as I got home.  First, I wanted something to spoon onto the raw oysters.  I made (basically) some pickled shallots.  Red wine vinegar, salt, pepper, sugar, and a few dashes of Tobasco sauce combined with finely chopped shallots - I let it all sit for a few hours so that the shallots became "pickled."  This was perfect on the oysters, and had the tiniest touch of heat from the Tobasco, so you got the freshness of the oyster, the pickle from the vinegar, the spice from the pepper & shallot, the sweet from the sugar, saltiness, and a tiny heat aftertaste.  The perfect combination of flavors.

The oysters themselves didn't take me as long as expected to shuck.  I'm getting better!!  I put a few ice bags in the bottom of a big bowl, and shucked the oysters about an hour before we were going to eat.  Shucking is fun if you have the right tool.  Once opened, just remember to remove the oyster from it's connection to the shell (run your shucking tool across the muscle to cut it).  I arranged the oysters in the bowl, and put them in the fridge.

Next I got out some of that delicious roasted garlic I found the other day.  I chopped it up and placed it on a plate.  I sprinkled salt & pepper over it, and then poured on some olive oil.  This was the perfect dipping sauce to go with the great loaf of Sullivan Street Bakery bread I brought home.  The snails only needed to cook for about 10 minutes in a really hot oven - just enough to make the her butter bubbly and delicious.

And I pulled out my behemoth stock pot for the crab legs.  I never boil them, I always steam them.  I placed the steamer tray in the bottom of the stock pot and added some water - once it started boiling, in went the crab legs and I covered it with a baking sheet (I know - I don't have a lid for that big pot).  The legs were easily 1 1/2 feet long each, but fit nicely in the pot.  I made sure to put the large parts of the legs (either the joint where the leg was attached to the body, or in some cases the massive claw) at the bottom so they received the most heat.  They steamed for 12-15 minutes and were perfectly cooked.  We each had our shell crackers, and I always bring out the kitchen scissors when I cook these huge crab legs - sometimes it's just easier to cut!  A small bowl of melted butter each, and we were off.  Eating with your hands - especially something so rich and decadent as things like oysters and crab legs - can be a very sensual experience.  It was the perfect meal for our 7 year anniversary.


  1. As usual, this looks sooo good. I am really craving those oysters. And I love the idea of the pickled shallot. That would go nicely.

  2. I'm not sure what you do for a living, but you are in the wrong profession. You should be a chef somewhere, preferably in my kitchen:) This all looks fabulous!