It’s an ‘R’ month
By Brock Daniels, PQ Monthly
September marks the first month of an end of the year run of months ending in “R,” so get your taste buds ready for some amazing shellfish! The fall and winter months ending in the letter “R” are shellfish season, and the Pacific Coast is the largest producer of shellfish in the United States. Shellfish farming is the very essence of sustainability, making it a perfect food item.
“The shellfish themselves sustain the habitat in which they grow; and shellfish farms sustain the coastal communities in which they operate by providing thousands of jobs and contributing more than $110 million a year to the West Coast economy,” explains the Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers Association (PCSGA). And we are lucky enough to be right in the middle of it!
Small, soft, and creamy, the Willapa Bay oysters from the southern Washington coast are some of the best oysters around. Because they are small and mild with a perfectly unique cucumber finish, these oysters are great for the beginning oyster connoisseur to enjoy raw on the half shell. Tillamook hails as another amazing oyster area, and the Netarts Bay Kumamoto Farm, part of the Northwest Oyster Company, produces these small, buttery morsels that have become increasingly popular over the past few years.
Find these and more succulent Pacific Coast oysters at two of my favorite local oyster eateries:
Dan & Louis Oyster Bar
208 SW Ankeny St.
Portland, OR 97204
3808 N. Williams Ave.
Portland, OR 97227
Chef Nate at The Uptown Billiards club on NW 23rd makes amazing seasonal granitas to go on top of his raw oysters. Cold, fruity, and a little spicy, his orange, carrot, ginger, and habanero granite-topped bi-valves inspired me to create my own recipe using fresh local ingredients. Try thd yummy, easy recipe below. This granita topping is an amazing combination with the fresh briny oyster. As the seasons change, and different fresh produce becomes available, play with what you can find at the markets to accompany this perfect sustainable food.
“The families who operate today’s shellfish farms are beneficiaries of a legacy of environmental stewardship passed on to them by previous generations of growers. The vibrant, healthy state of our shellfish community is proof that today’s growers are equally committed to passing that legacy on to the next generation, ” the PCSGA says.
Enjoy these next several months with local sustainable oysters, and explore the fantasies of our region. It’s worth it.
½ pint local strawberries
1 serrano chili pepper
1 tbsp agave nectar
12 fresh raw Pacific Coast oysters of your choice
Add all the ingredients to a large food processor, and chop until very well mixed, and juicy. Strain the liquid using a fine mesh strainer, and pour onto a sheet pan, or shallow container that will fit in your freezer. Place in the freezer, and stir every 5 to 10 minutes with a fork to disrupt the juice from freezing into one hard brick. This will make the granita crystals form perfectly. Once the granita is done, and the consistency of a thick Slurpee, top each oyster on the half shell with a dollop of granita, and enjoy immediately.
Brock Daniels, a Pacific Northwest native, has studied wine, culinary arts, gastronomy, and loves researching new food. Brock has written a self-published cookbook titled “Our Year in the Kitchen.” Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.