Pan Pacific Oyster Po’Boy
Fresh Marin Miyagi Oysters, gnarly thin layers and sharp edged. Shucking hell for the inexperienced (that would be me.) Shucking is not for sissies. It is a practiced art and were it not for my weekly surprise seafood delivery from Local Catch Monterey Bay I would most assuredly leave this task to experts. However, undaunted I grasped my seafood shucking knife, wrapped a thick towel on the edge of the bivalve and searched for the thin nearly invisible space between the top and bottom shell. This is nature’s perfect container held tightly shut by the oyster muscle, so frustratingly impermeable and delicate at the same time. Shell fragments flew as I attacked each one, some opening with relative ease and others shattering apart. I am all the more appreciative of those glistening, briny bites on the half shell, perfect in presentation created by the culinary experts. I was luck to get two perfectly split out of two dozen attempts.
The Miyagi Oyster is also known as the Japanese or Pacific Oyster and is very successfully farmed in the cold choppy waters of Tomales Bay just in sight of the open Pacific Ocean. This batch plucked fresh and picked up within a day was exquisite in taste, smelling of the sea air, delicate flesh and underlying sweetness. If I had been a gifted shucker a few on the half shell and a little bubbly would have set my heart a-flitter. Alas the small bowl of oyster flesh in varying sizes and shape could only be salvaged by one dish — breaded and deep fried where the presentation forgives the mess I made removing the succulent flesh from the shells.
The results is a Po’Boy inspired with a Pan Pacific twist. Standard deep fry breading assembly: three bowls, flour, egg wash and bread crumbs. Heat oil in a wok to about 350-360 degrees. I like using my wok for this as I need less oil and the oysters are small so I don’t need a lot of surface space. Frying takes just about a minute at this temperature and I turned them over at least once to brown and crisp evenly on all sides. Overcooking will make the inside oyster flesh dry an rubbery and nobody wants that! Cook in batches, drain on a paper towel, keep warm.
The two elements that make this more Asian inspired is the salad topping and the Sriracha infused secret goo. To make the salad, thinly slice romaine lettuce and red bell pepper (I need to have color variety) and a good handful of fresh cilantro. Mix in a bowl and toss with a squeeze of fresh lime juice. The secret goo is basicially your traditional Thousand Island dressing (mayonnaise, ketsup and pickle relish) with a hearty squeeze of Sriacha Sauce.
To assemble, warm your bread roll in the oven then split in half (warming whole keeps the inside bread moist and tender.) I remove a bit of the bread from the bottom layer to make a bowl to hold the oysters in place. Spread generously with your secret goo, add your oysters, squeeze a bit of lime juice then top with the lettuce cilantro and pepper salad.
Miyagi Oysters (farmed) Tomales Bay Info from Local Catch Monterey Bay