I have a confession to make.
I hate oysters.
What's that you're saying? You already knew that from a previous post about a different oyster dish?
Well, good on ya. Looks like you're paying attention. Gold stars all around!
The real confession is, I made this dish but didn't taste it. It's the first recipe I've made from The French Laundry Cookbook that I didn't even take a nibble of. Why? Two words: pickled oysters. Separate yet equally disgusting tastes/smells/textures that when put together really make me wanna hurl. And for someone who grew up surrounded by all things Amish and Pennsylvania Dutch, I'm supposed to be genetically programmed to like pickled things. I must be a robot, or something, because no can do. So, I only made half the recipe because I could only find three tasters, and none of them were really all that excited about the prospect of this dish. I'm sure it had absolutely nothing to do with the way I marketed it to them, what with the wrinkled nose, armpit farting noises, gagging sounds, spastic Bob Fosse moves, and dry heaves.
I will also confess that I did not spring for sevruga caviar either. Instead, I picked up some invisible caviar -- which really means I decided to forgo the caviar altogether since I didn't want to spend the money on something I wasn't going to taste, let alone enjoy, because I believe that money can best be spent on things I would enjoy more than pickled oysters, such as wine, bacon, cheese, or multiple colonics. Or 300 performances of this. Which, after you click on that link and come back after having stabbed your inner ear repeatedly with a grapefruit spoon, you will truly understand how much I would NOT HAVE ENJOYED THIS DISH, TRUST ME.
And, I'm sure some of you will email me or comment "but the caviar is what made this the best" or "you really should have tried it -- it's quite good" to which I reply, I don't care and no frickin' way.
Alright, enough disclaimers. Let's get to the food.
The first thing I did was get some oysters from BlackSalt. They shucked them for me and saved the shells for the plating. I took the oysters home, rinsed them well and cleaned the shells. Then, I prepared the pickling liquid: white wine vinegar, water, sugar, star anise, cloves, coriander seeds and dill:
I brought the pickling liquid to a boil, turned off the flame, covered it and let it steep for a half hour. I then added the oysters to the liquid and stuck the covered pot in the refrigerator for a day or so.
About a half hour before serving this dish, I made the cucumber capellini. I peeled an English cucumber, and using my mandoline sliced 1/16" thick slices lengthwise:
I then stacked the slices on top of one another (in a few piles so I didn't slice a finger off in the next step) and cut them into thin julienne strips to sort of resemble capellini. I'm sure the staff at The French Laundry do a far better job than I did, but I don't think mine looked too shabby:
More linguine-ish than capellini, but that's okay with me. I put a little bit of rice wine vinegar into the bowl and mixed it around to coat the cucumber and let it sit for about 30 minutes to extract the excess liquid from the cucumber. After 30 minutes, I strained it and squeezed out the remaining liquid and tossed in a little bit of chopped dill.
Time for plating, which was really easy. First on the plate went a bed of seaweed (thanks, BlackSalt!). Nestled in that was the oyster shell. I twirled some of the cucumber capellini around the tines of a fork (like I was twirling spaghetti) and put that into the shell, and on top of the cuke went an oyster. I then topped the oyster with a tiny sprig of fresh dill. The caviar should've gone on top of the oyster, but as you know, I didn't buy any. So, if you're making this at home, the caviar goes on top of the oyster and under the dill.
My tasters had the same reaction, which was "meh." They liked the cucumber a lot, and thought the oyster was unecessary. Perhaps the caviar would've revved up the presence of the oyster, but I tend to think not. And, the thought of caviar and cucumber together is kind of vile.
So, I'm 0 for 2 on oyster dishes here, kids.
Up Next: Vanilla Bean-Roasted Figs with Wildflower Honey-Vanilla Ice Cream (because it's FINALLY fig season and I can barely contain myself!)
Oysters and seaweed from BlackSalt
Star anise, cloves, coriander seeds and rice wine vinegar from the TPSS Co-op
English cucumber and fresh dill from Whole Foods
Music to Cook By: Ennio Morricone; The Mission. I can't tell you a THING about the movie because I was 17 when I saw it, and much more interested in Andrew McCarthy than the tale of Father Gabriel and his merry band of Spanish Jesuits conquering South America and then fighting the Portuguese. Or something. See, I TOLD you I was more into Andrew McCarthy. But this soundtrack is one of the best ever produced. And, I mean EVER.
Sunday, August 12, 2007
I have a confession to make.