1.3.13 Clean Slate
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.