Late last night we came back from dinner at a friends’ house where we talked politics and made jokes and generally carried on in a manner that would not be approved of in our staid suburban town – at least not politically. The main dish was Chicken Marbella, from one of the Silver Palate cookbooks, which has been a mainstay main course in our circle of friends ever since my lovely partner in crime, Jan, managed to make enough of it for over 50 people for my 40th birthday and every one of those 50 was blown away by it.
But none of that has anything to do with this story. Eventually we packed up our tent and rolled home. Actually it wasn’t all that late – the next day was a school night. On our doorstep was a strange lumpy plastic ziploc bag that looked rather ominous in the moonlight. It was a package of ten HUGE raw oysters, still cold, still in shells. I shoved them in the fridge on the principle that I could find out if they were any good later.
But why were they there? A love offering from a neighborhood cat for our unlovely, ancient and weird cat? An unsubtle attempt at poisoning by one of the smaller minded people in town?
Fortunately I remembered that the previous night, at the progressive dinner (see previous IMBB post) one of our neighbors had mentioned a trip to Point Reyes and the purchase of oysters at Tomales Bay. I had mentioned how much we liked oysters – these were clearly our share.
Oysters of Serendipity
So tonight we had oysters of serendipity. After Grace’s soccer practice we only had 40 minutes before the family regathered from its scattered activities. I reheated lots of leftover garlic pasta (if you want the recipe use the handy dandy search bar on the top right and remember to leave it at searching Tomatilla, not the whole web). I heavily heated a chopped onion until it was crispy and brown. Then I shucked the oysters, reducing their number to eight when the smell of two of them put even my nose on notice. I retained the juice as much as possible and as few shell fragments as possible. Then the oysters went into the very hot pan without the juice and immediately started to brown on the down side. I flipped them and then added the juice and stirred a lot. Finally in went a whole bunch of cilantro finely chopped and a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice and some salt to taste. Serve sauce on top of a bed of garlic pasta.
It was totally fantastic. On the oyster scale of yumminess, ten is reserved completely for only two things. One is eating the oyster from Tomales Bay on the dock of the oyster farm literally seconds after they come out of the water. The other is the kaki sushi (raw oyster sushi) at Ebisu in San Francisco. Cooked oysters – including Rockefeller, barbecued, breaded and fried with lime juice – all come in at best around six or seven. Most oysters, particularly at ‘raw’ bars come in at about five.
Well this oyster dish came in at nine on the oyster richter scale.