1.3.13 Clean Slate

Oysters 790 xxx
photos by gluttonforlife
New year. New you? Probably not. The same you, with fresh intentions, perhaps. If you didn't read Frank Bruni's recent piece, now would be a good time to do so. It's about what he calls "these wretched vessels," the bodies we are so actively engaged in criticizing at every step of the journey, but especially at the new year when we all resolve to whittle away at them. Here's what he proposes: We should make peace with them and remain conscious of that, especially at this particular hinge of the calendar, when we compose a litany of promises about the better selves ahead, foolishly defining those selves in terms of what’s measurable from the outside, instead of what glimmers within. Though I couldn't agree more that losing ten pounds will not make you a better person, it's only natural to want a little palate cleanser after all that holiday eggnog and gingerbread and short ribs and chocolate. Something cool and frothy, vegetal and light. Or straight from the sea, saline and frigid. So I can't actually say that getting G one of these as a stocking stuffer was completely without guile.
Glove 790 xxx
aw, shucks
A stainless steel mesh glove makes oyster shucking a much safer proposition, though it remains somewhat challenging and tedious. The results, however, are well worth it. I'm a fan of the smaller oyster, like kumamotos, and those with a briny sweetness akin to cucumber. And I like them raw, never cooked. Freshness, of course, is paramount. Let your nose be your guide. If you ever catch a whiff of any unpleasantness, simply discard that oyster and move on without hesitation.
On ice2 790 xxx
shell game
My favorite way to eat these bold bivavles is topped with a granità, an icy swirl of flavor that dissolves on the tongue, mingling with the taste of the oyster but not overpowering it.
Granita 790 xxx
ice capade
I've slurped them down this way at Momofuku, and also at the now-defunct Matsuri (R.I.P.). The granità is simple to make and can be any combination of citrusy, spicy and salty. You simply concoct the liquid of your choice in a glass or metal dish in the freezer, and rake it with a fork as it hardens, scraping it into a fine, icy gravel. I made mine with cucumber, yuzu—an Asian citrus fruit—and jalapeño. Tomato water with a little Tabasco would also be fantastic. Or lemon juice mixed with Riesling and a hint of shallot. Or ginger juice diluted with water and a little soy sauce...you can see that the possibilities are legion.
On ice3 790 xxx
raw deal
You want to keep and serve oysters as cold as possible, and there's no better way to manage this than on a bed of ice—unless it's on a bed of fresh snow. Here's to a new year of new tastes, adventures, discoveries, passions and great joy! I look forward to sharing it all with you. What are you looking forward to?
 

Cucumber-Yuzu Granità

makes about 3-4 cups
  • — 2 medium cucumbers
  • — 1 jalapeño
  • — 1/3 cup bottled or fresh yuzu juice* (or substitute fresh lemon or lime juice)
  • — 1/3 cup water
  • — 1 teaspoon sea salt

Peel, seed and roughly chop cucumbers. Seed and chop jalapeño.

In a food processor or blender, purée all ingredients until liquid. Taste and season with more salt and yuzu, as needed.

Transfer to a large metal or glass baking pan and freeze until semi-solid, about 20 minutes. Using the tines of a fork, scrape into fine shards. Repeat this a couple more times at 15-minute intervals, until you have a granular, fluffy granità.

Spoon over fresh raw oysters or scallops.

*Note: Some bottled yuzu juice comes salted, so always taste first.

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7 Comments

Oh, these look wonderful! We get fabulous Pemaquid oysters here in Maine, small and salty-sweet. Had them on New Years, washed down with Prosecco ~ an invigorating start to the year. Love your suggestion of a granita topping...
Prairie on January 3, 2013 at 10:23 am — Reply
Local oysters, what a treat! (You still have to tell me which friend we have in common...)
laura on January 3, 2013 at 7:43 pm — Reply
Oooh, these look so good. We are big oyster fans. The granita is a great touch. So clean and refreshing. We went to Maison Premiere Oyster Bar in Williamsburg. Divine! I see that Chelsea Market is refurbishing the Lobster Place fish market due to open in February along with a brand new Oyster Bar next to it.
Jan on January 3, 2013 at 6:23 pm — Reply
Did not know that! Have been meaning to get to the Grand Central Oyster Bar...
laura on January 3, 2013 at 7:41 pm — Reply
Oh my, I LOVE oysters. The holidays whizzed by and I cannot believe I didn't get my oyster fix. Damn. Went to Pearl Oyster Bar in the Village a few months ago. Have you been? Wonderful, fun place. Your post filled me up, but now I'm craving the real thing. I'm looking forward to oysters in early 2013 (this week). Will have to be from a local place - Flat Iron in Red Hook (not Brooklyn), near Rhinebeck.
Ronnie on January 3, 2013 at 7:15 pm — Reply
This is the perfect time for oysters - any month with an R in it, as they say. I've had lobster rolls at Pearl but never the oysters; must add it to the list.
laura on January 3, 2013 at 7:42 pm — Reply
This granita looks incredible! And that glove! You just inspired a present for Steve. And I loved reading the other comments--oysters in red hook? really? I must investigate. Pearl is a sweet little place. And the Grand Central Oyster Bar is one of my favorite childhood memories; I try to go whenever I can just to check out the old school scene. And yes, that piece by Bruni was a good one.
Julia on January 4, 2013 at 9:05 am — Reply