We're already heading into Week 6 of Michael's culinary class at Scottsdale Community College. It's Seafood Week, which has been my least favorite week so far. We didn't get to cook a meal. Mike just had to demonstrate various techniques of handling seafood.
Michael is getting a little tired of spending money on all the extras for his class. He's had to shell out his hard-earned dollars from working at Chick-fil-a for 2 kinds of wine, bourbon, tons of shallots and filet mignon, among other things. This week was no exception. Mike needed an oyster knife. Sur La Table had just what he needed. Another $10 gone from his wallet. Sigh...grumpy sigh...then we went to Safeway to purchase the shellfish. Told the guy at the fish counter that we only needed 1 oyster - his raised eyebrow begged for an explanation - "we're going to pry it open and take its picture." I guess that was a pretty good answer - he laughed then picked out the largest oyster in the display case -- it looked like one massive barnacle that had been scraped off the bottom of a ship! He gave it to us at no cost. Very nice. Then we selected 2 littleneck clams. And a few jumbo shrimp in the shell. Let Shellfish Week commence.
You can see the two littleneck clams steaming away in the pan. What you can't see is the layer of sand in the bottom of the pan. Note to self: next time (if there is a next time) (like if the grocery store is all out of canned clams and I absolutely have to make clam chowder) wash/scrub the clams before cooking them.
Notice that one of the clams steamed open and the other one stayed tightly closed. The one that is open is fair game and good to eat. The closed one should be discarded - did a little research - the closed one was probably dead to begin with (as opposed to alive?! what?!)
Michael practiced shelling then de-veining the shrimp using a small paring knife and running it down the back of the shrimp. We brainstormed three different ways we could prepare them and serve them. I was proud of him for jumping right in with suggestions. If we had more time (and more shrimp) we would have grilled them and then stirred sweet/hot asian chili sauce and some lime juice into them...Mike's idea!
This oyster was a monstrosity. Really. The oyster knife that Mike bought came with this cute little wooden oyster holder - a normal-sized oyster would fit right in it and be easily pried open without too much trouble. Unfortunately, this oyster was 4x as big as the oyster holder. There was no clear opening along the edge of the shell. Mike and I couldn't see any place to start prying it open. I started chipping away at the barnacles. Finally, I saw a little sliver of shell to cram the knife into. Between Mike's muscles and my chipping, scraping and prying, we got it open. We were a little disappointed that we didn't find a pearl after all that work.
Here it is. Separated from the abductor muscle by a few scrapes of the oyster knife. Squeeze on some fresh lemon juice, a little salt, pepper, hey, why not add the Rockefeller sauce and bake it. Just don't ask me or Mike to eat it. That's all I'm saying.
Next assignment: sauces. Gallons of sauces. Stay tuned!