Oysters Rockefeller Day
Oysters Rockefeller Day is January 10th
Oysters Rockefeller, a day to celebrate the history of this half shell culinary wonder!
Put away your flashy beads, brilliantly colored ladders, and bottle up that racuous revelry. We are going to talk about a different kind of Louisiana holiday, the oyster kind.
Long, long ago prehistoric man cracked open this gritty salt-water bivalve and slurped its meat and liquor down clean. After centuries of enjoying these mouthwatering mollusks, In 1889 the legendary dish known as “Oysters Rockefeller” was born.
The dish was the creation of chef Jules Alciatore, Oysters baked on the half shell with sauce and breadcrumbs. It was described as being so rich that they had to give it the name “Rockefeller” to communicate how loaded this bad boy was (after John D. Rockefeller specifically. He was an Industrialist who basically had a monopoly on the oil business in the U.S by 1882).
You can still visit “Antoine’s Restaurant” in the French quarter of Louisiana today where they are serving the irreplicable dish and other culinary classics like Eggs Sardou and Pommes De Terre Soufflées. Many have attempted to recreate this dish, and many delicious failures were made. A dish this iconic surely deserves its own day of the year, and in 2016 the Registrar at National Day Calendar® accepted Oysters Rockefeller day as an official Holiday. Now get out there, crack open a few cold, slimy ones, and get creative with how you celebrate this effortlessly delicious dish.
How to Shuck an Oyster
I ran the oyster bar at an acknowledged seafood restaurant in Atlanta, so let me share some tips and tricks I picked up from other chefs and on the job. There are millions of different variations of Oysters Rockefeller you can look up online, so I am going to cover how to properly shuck an oyster to set you up for success.
Get A “Real” Oyster Knife
Having a truly sharp oyster knife makes a world of difference. Much like how cutting with a dull chef knife is dangerous because of the extra force, a dull oyster knife is likely to slip and go through your hand. A good oyster knife has a stiff spine and a working blade that can actually cut. The sharp edge can finagle itself into tight crevices easier and make shucking a breeze. I recommend these French oyster knives made by Thérias et l'Econome. They have been making these French beauties for six generations, and after thousands of oysters I can attest to its performance.
$30 Bucks?!?... I Have A Perfectly Working Screwdriver, Thank You Very Much.
True, but if those strong bivalve muscles got your knees weak, arms heavy then here's a little secret. Blanch those bad boys in boiling water, and shock’ em in ice water. This will loosen up the muscle that closes the shell and make your life a whole lot easier. You can do this (discreetly) a couple hours before, and tell your friends that you’ve done this A MILLION times, as you pop the shells off effortlessly. They won’t know ;) (Just make sure they keep their distance…)
What Is A Good Oyster?
If your local seafood market allows you to handle the oysters, clack them together. It shouldn’t sound hollow, good oysters sound like rocks because of all the liquor trapped inside (The beautifully clean liquid surrounding the oyster). You will know without a doubt that your oyster is good if you see a little crab squirming around after you’ve opened it. Don’t be alarmed, this is a good sign because it means that the oyster is so nutrient rich that there is enough for the crab to survive off of it. Pop the little guy in your mouth to absorb his power or put ’em in a jar and call him Sheldon - the choice is yours. Oysters should never look dry. Liquor should be spilling out when you open one, and the smell should only whisper where it had just come from. Before you leave, make sure to ask the fish vendor for an extra bag of crushed ice for later.
Let’s Get To Shucking
Now that you are home, get the largest bowl you own, throw those oysters in, and fill it with water until they are all submerged. Now get your hands in there and mix it up. Washing the oysters will lower your chances of slurping up any grit along with the beautiful meat. Oysters have a flat side of their shell and a round side. Rest the oyster on a dish towel with the flat side up and the hinge pointing toward your dominant hand. Rest the tip of your knife parallel to the hinge and cover the oyster and blade with the other half of the towel to save your hand from any slippage (I recommend wearing a cut proof glove for beginners.). Press your knife in further while wiggling the blade side to side to feel for the inner shell. This shouldn’t require much force if your knife is sharp enough, and if you're breaking a sweat you are most likely doing something wrong. If you are successful, the oyster should be able to hang off the tip of your blade. Now twist the blade towards you to lever the shell open, and scrape against the top of the inner shell following the perimeter of the oyster until the meat has been cleanly separated. Hold the oyster out at arm’s length so that the sun can shine brilliantly on its glistening body and behold.
Isn’t she stunning?
Inspect the liquor for any grit, and with your knife, turn the meat over to reveal the smooth underbelly and you are all set! Set those beauties on the crushed ice you brought back from the market and enjoy.
Coming Together with Oysters
Oysters often symbolize protection, a hidden treasure, finding inner self… and other sexual connotations. Oysters don’t always lead to love, but I have never seen someone down a dozen oysters alone. It always tastes better with friends. People all over the world eat oysters from Japan to New Zealand, from the East Coast to the West Coast. Our love for these little earthly delights go beyond every boundary, so get everyone together and let's get to shucking.