Valentine's Day Shellfish
by Ross Bowen, Tastemaker in Residence
Three ways to cook shellfish in one night?
We picked up blue point oysters, littleneck clams, and live lobster for our special meal. Grilling is the way to go; just throw a few oysters on the fire at a time until they open, then use a tong to pull them off the hot fire. Open the shell the rest of the way while wearing hot gloves, and add hot sauce. We like Tiger Sauce - it is hot but also sweet and adds a unique flavor to the oyster. It’s something we have around, and is commonly used on competition ribs. We like to dip the oyster in butter as well.
Cook clams the same way. Once open, they are a little harder to detach from the shell than the oysters, but go well with the Tiger Sauce and butter.
I always feel slightly guilty about cooking live lobsters. They don’t really scream when added to boiling water – they don’t have vocal cords, for one thing. That noise is the air escaping the shell. Nevertheless, I remove any question by plunging a chef’s knife from the back of the head threw the front in one quick motion. Next, since we are grilling, not boiling, turn over the shellfish and make another long cut threw the length of the body and tail. Remove and discard the stomach and the intestinal tract. You can set aside the green tomalley for use in a melted butter, but we didn’t do that this evening. Using the back of the knife, bash a gap in the claw so it can heat properly.
Brush the meat with melted garlic butter and place the lobster meat side down on the grill for a few minutes. Flip over and continue to cook until the meat is white. Serve with more melted butter.
We paired the meal with a Gewurztraminer (Lili’s favorite). On the side we served asparagus, for once steamed and not grilled. Triple chocolate cake topped off our feast.
In the end I suppose we only had shellfish two ways, since we did the oysters and clams with the same method and sauces. Still, it was a pretty good night for me, since I got to grill, despite the cold weather, and I know Lili was happy as well.