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Oyster RecipesFebruary 12, 2018

Simple Garlicky Kaki Meshi (Oyster Rice) Recipe for Lazy Cooks

Although I am willing to go out of my way to enjoy tasty food, I am much less motivated when it comes to cooking my own. The simpler the recipe, the better. The less effort it takes, the better. I admit that I am a lazy cook, which is why I love this simple Kaki Meshi (Oyster Rice) recipe so much.

Bowl of Oyster Rice in Rice Cooker Pot

What is Kaki Meshi?

Kaki = oyster.

Meshi or Gohan = cooked rice.

Kaki Meshi (or Kaki Gohan) is a simple and satisfying dish featuring seasoned oysters over steamed rice. If you’ve searched for other kaki meshi recipes online, you already know that there’s a great selection of preparations such as:

Unfortunately, all of them require many ingredients, including several somewhat-hard-to-find Asian products that may not be in your pantry or local grocery store. And they also require a bit more effort than what I really want to exert. Kaki meshi typically calls for seasoned, pre-marinated or cooked oysters. I didn’t have the patience or energy to do this step. Whatever. If you do, try one of the recipes as listed above. But if you’re feeling just as lazy as I was, my recipe should do the trick!

The Right Oysters for Kaki Meshi

Some kaki meshi recipes use enormous oysters, but I’m not that crazy about it. I used a handful of Village Bay oysters from New Brunswick in my recipe and they worked just fine. A freshly shucked, preferably briny oyster will enhance the flavor of the rice naturally. I’ve also tried using pre-shucked oysters before, but the kaki meshi ends up tasting a bit too fishy. Shucking the oyster directly into the pot of rice was the easiest approach. Not that familiar with shucking oysters? Then I’d suggest opening them into a bowl first and removing any excess shell or grit with a strainer. Take care to keep the whole oysters intact as this only enhances the final dish’s texture and presentation!

Learn how to shuck by watching my How to Shuck video!

Pro Tip: Invest in a Rice Cooker

I’m an avid rice eater (as a Chinese American, you kind of have to be…), and I’m all about well-cooked rice without hassle. If you are the same way, then you should seriously consider buying a rice cooker.

Doing so will make this experience less about making kaki meshi and more like “my rice cooker made kaki meshi for me!” You can literally throw in all of the ingredients, press START and be eating in no time. If you don’t have a rice cooker, just follow the recipe with a non-stick pot. Make sure that your pot has a well-fitted, heavy lid to lock in the steam as it cooks.

Side note: not all rice cookers are created equal. A higher-end rice cooker makes a huge difference in the final product. I have a Zojirushi rice cooker and it’s one of my best kitchen friends! It pressure cooks the rice (short grain, long grain, brown, etc) beautifully and then it keeps it warm at the perfect temperature. The non-stick pot also makes cleanup a breeze. Zojirushi rice cookers range from $120-$300+ depending on the model. We got ours as a wedding gift a few years ago. Hey you, newly engaged: add it to your registry. You won’t regret it! 

Garlicky Kaki Meshi for Lazy Cooks

Makes 2 servings
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Jasmine rice or other long grain rice
  • 1.5 cup chicken broth
  • 6-8 medium-sized (2.5-3 inch) fresh oysters, perfectly shucked in liquor
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, slice into chips
  • 3 dried shiitake mushrooms, sliced (or fresh, sliced)
  • 1/2 inch cube of ginger, grated or finely minced
  • Shichimi togarashi (optional)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 stem green onion, thinly sliced (optional)

Instructions

  1. Wash the rice thoroughly in the rice cooker pot.
  2. Add chicken broth to the rice, set aside. If using a rice cooker, fill up to the level of liquid required to cook 1 cup of white rice. I think this should be about 1.5 cups of broth.
  3. Heat olive oil in a small fry pan on medium-high. Place the garlic slices in the oil and fry them until light golden brown on both sides. Remove and place onto paper towel. Don’t overcook! 
  4. Add the shucked oysters, shiitake mushrooms, fried garlic chips and ginger to the rice cooker pot. Add a pinch of salt and pepper.
  5. Close the rice cooker lid, set it to cook White Rice and press Start. If you have a Zojirushi, you can now enjoy Twinkle Twinkle Little Star as it starts to cook. Do not open the rice cooker lid. It will release all of the pressure.
  6. Once the rice finishes cooking, mix the rice and other ingredients around. Add togarashi, salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Sprinkle a little green onion on top for garnish. Enjoy!

 

Did you try this recipe? If so, what did you think? What would you do differently? Bonus points if you can think of a way to make this recipe even lazier. Haha! 

Oyster Know-HowJanuary 1, 2018

A Handy List of Oyster Shuckers, Caterers and Mobile Raw Bars

I’m a huge fan of shucking my own oysters, but when it’s about planning a celebration or business event, nobody’s got time for that! If you’re less, “do it yourself,” and more about “do it for me,” look no further. Here’s a quick compilation of shucking services, caterers and mobile raw bars from around the country that can help take your event to the next level.

IAHS Oyster Catering IMG_3092

Oyster Shuckers, Mobile Raw Bars & Catering Services

This list just keeps on growing and growing, so I’ve decided to turn it into a database that is searchable, segmentable, filterable and sortable. If you have an established shucking service that you’d like add to this list, fill out this form. I used Airtable to build this and have been obsessed with their platform for over a year! It’s super easy to use and has made keeping track of lots of information fun and simple.

Oyster Education & Curated Tastings

I am taking on a limited number of private clients this summer & fall on the East and West Coast.
Reach out if you’re interested!

 

How to Shuck

I made a shucking video and page just for that. Also, you might like my “How to Enjoy Oysters at Home” post.

Oyster Events, Oyster PeopleOctober 8, 2017

The Spirit of the Oyster South

It’s an opportune time to be an oyster enthusiast in the South. Although many Gulf and Southeastern states have longstanding oyster ventures, the industry is being shaken up by new faces, places, and ideas. A new entity has emerged from this energy. Its name: The Oyster South. Its purpose: building a community around southern family oyster farms.

Oyster South is a non-profit organization that’s comprised of oyster farmers, academics, restaurateurs, and media folks who are committed to the growth of southern oyster culture and community. The cross-sector collective not only fills a geographic gap between the ECSGA and PCSGA, but also reflects the new collaborative spirit between producers, operators, and consumers. I flew down to Atlanta in January and hitched a ride with Oyster South co-founder/board member Ted Golden, aka @FoodieBuddha, to Auburn University to participate in the inaugural Oyster South Symposium.

The gathering consisted of a diverse swath of stakeholders, from professional oyster shuckers to Sea Grant representatives. The agenda was packed with interesting talks. Each state had an opportunity to share updates about the development, or lack thereof, in their aquaculture sector. Louisiana and Alabama are the trailblazers of the oyster farming movement, and North Carolina and Florida also are growing rapidly. Things (legislation, namely) seem to be more complicated in other states such as Texas and Mississippi, and marine resource representatives admit that there’s a lot of catching up to do.

Chefs also had a voice during the two-day symposium. Chef Ryan Prewitt (shown above) from Pêche in New Orleans shared his perspective about working closely with local growers to source the best oysters for his raw bar. His thoughts were echoed by Bryan Rackley, partner/co-founder of Oyster South and Kimball House’s Oyster Situation Director PersonJim Smith, Executive Chef of the State of Alabama and Top Chef contestant also offered up some great suggestions about how to work with your state government to promote oysters. It was a real treat to have such a stellar group of chefs and foodservice professionals at the gathering, and being able to spend more time with them at the Alabama Oyster Social in the evening.

For oyster farming to happen just about anywhere nowadays comes down to one key component: seed. That is why I found the presentations, “Oyster Hatcheries in the South” by Scott Rikard from Auburn University and “Bottle Nursery Components and Operation for Small Oyster Seed Production” by John Supan from Louisiana State University to be especially interesting. If you’re thinking about starting up an oyster business, it’ll be worth your while to watch.

After the first day of class—the venue made me feel like we were all going back to school—the group was let out to refresh themselves in the brisk 40-degree January air. It certainly felt nice, but I wasn’t expecting Alabama to be this chilly!

Jay Styron of Carolina Mariculture lugged out a large white and blue sack of his Cedar Island Selects to the courtyard. As soon as he and Bill Walton had an oyster and knife in hand, a cluster of hungry symposium attendees started circling around the two. The Cedar Island Select—not to be confused with Cedar Islands from Rhode Island—was a brand new specimen for me. It would be my second-ever North Carolinian oyster encounter (the first being Cape Hatteras), and I was very eager to try it.

Bill handed me a pillowy cream-colored oyster. It had a lovely deep cup and felt heavy in my hand. The Cedar Island Select’s icy, ocean-breezy brine tastes more saline than I had imagined it would be although not overbearing. The fully opaque, about-to-spill-over-the-shell meat had marvelously dense and springy texture. The freshness was palpable. I felt a strange sensation while enjoying this oyster. It didn’t actually feel like I was eating an oyster at all! Instead, I was snacking on a luscious sea scallop or lump crab meat. Sea-sweet, supple, and savory. The Cedar Island Select is what I imagine when I hear the phrase, “fruit of the sea,” and I couldn’t get enough.

Although our hands and toes were growing numb from the cold, my senses were wide awake.

I’m newly convinced that not only is it better to enjoy oysters when it’s cold but also eating them in the cold (and maybe while you’re cold). Oysters in the summertime is sooooo overrated. 

Side note: if you are ever handed a freshly shucked oyster by Bill Walton (aka Doctor Oyster), I suggest you accept it. There aren’t many times in your life when you’ll be offered a perfectly shucked oyster sprinkled with super fresh oyster knowledge.

On day two, I gave my presentation, “#OysterLove: 2017 Trends Forecast,” which focuses on a few trends that I see are impacting consumer and B2B marketing efforts. Since that talk, I’ve seen some growers take my advice to heart and really up their marketing and social media game. (Btw: if you’re interested in getting access to the presentation, shoot me an email.)

All and all, I learned a TON at the Oyster South Symposium. More importantly, I got to meet some remarkable growers, chefs, and thought leaders in the oyster space. It’s a really unique networking opportunity and would definitely go again.

Should I Join the Oyster South?

The short answer is Yes. You and anyone who is interested in supporting the growth of the southern oyster industry should join. If you are a current grower or aspiring one based in the South (or have a business that supports the oyster industry), membership is currently just $35/year. Sign up at on their website.

An upcoming Oyster South event that you definitely need to know about is Landlocked on Sunday, October 29th in Decatur, GA (just outside of Atlanta). This magnificent feast of oysters from all three coasts and whole hog BBQ will benefit the University of Georgia Shellfish Lab & Oyster South Partner Farms. Just take a gander below at the growers and chefs involved. I’m going to be there. You should be there. Let’s party!

Tickets are $100 (VIP tickets that get you in the door 1 hour before General Admission is $150).

Grab them here.

 

Oyster LoveAugust 19, 2017

My Oyster Bucket List

Goal-setting is a practice that I firmly believe. When you write your intentions down, they are definitely more likely to come true. I don’t have hard data to back this up, but it really does work! So with that in mind, here’s my oyster bucket list.

Ever since stumbling across Peter Jon Lindberg’s mesmerizing and envy-inducing world oyster journey for Travel + Leisure, I’ve been inspired to weave my own international oyster saga.

I had the unbelievable opportunity to travel the world for business during my mid-20’s and made sure to take full advantage of it. It’s not only a thrill to experience oysters from all around the world, but pure joy to meet people who are just as obsessed as you are.

Even now with well over two dozen oyster farm visits under my belt, the hunger hasn’t subsided. There’s still SO much left to discover, still many friends yet to meet. In 2010, I started a food-related “to do” list on my pre-oyster food blog. It’s still online if you care to take a peek. I think I will start to keep track of my top oyster to-do’s as well and see how it goes.

 

My Oyster Bucket List

  1. Visit Australia’s Oyster Coast of NSW and shuck my own oysters
  2. Visit an oyster farm in Tasmania
  3. Attend the Bluff Oyster Festival in New Zealand
  4. Harvest and enjoy Limfjord oysters in Denmark before the Chinese eat them all
  5. Hang out at the Knysna Oyster Festival in South Africa
  6. Visit French oyster country (this might take 1 month) — Normandy, Brittany, Marennes-Oléron
  7. Visit a Croatian oyster farm
  8. Visit oyster farms and friends of the United Kingdom
  9. Hang out with my favorite Canadian oyster friends in Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver
  10. Visit the oyster farmers of North Carolina
  11. And oyster farmers in South Carolina
  12. Visit oyster farms in China
  13. Return to Japan and sample oysters from across the country
  14. Finally make my way to the Western Bay of the Chesapeake (I’m stunned I haven’t done this yet)
  15. Four words: Hama Hama Oyster Rama
  16. Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick oyster land visit needs to happen as well
  17. Teach an oyster master class abroad
  18. Take an oyster master class abroad
  19. Dive for oysters with Glidden Point Oyster Farm
  20. Do a podcast about oysters

 

What else should be on here?

 

Oyster ToursAugust 18, 2017

Do You Know About the Oyster Trail of Maine?

I’m not sure how I stumbled across this treasure map years ago, but I freaked out (in a good way) when I did. The Oyster Trail of Maine is the brainchild of Catherine Schmitt and Dana Morse from Maine Sea Grant, and it’s growing into something much bigger.

The hope is to turn this directory of oyster goodness below into a full-fledged Oyster Trail of Maine website that visitors, locals, and food professionals can use to organize their own fabulous Maine oyster adventure.

Check out the landing page to learn more about Maine oysters. You can also navigate the points of interest using this key below!

Red pin: Oyster farm tours
My faves being: Nonesuch Oyster Farm, Damariscotta River Cruises

Yellow pin: Buy oysters
My faves being: Harbor Fish Market, Browne Trading Market, and Glidden Point Oyster Farm

Green pin: Eat oysters
My faves being: Eventide Oyster Co., BP Shuck Shack, Scales, Roberts Maine Grill

Blue pin: Know oysters
My faves being: Johns River, Bar Harbor Selects, Glidden Point, Pemaquid, Otter Cove, too many others to list!

 

READ POST: Blazing the Maine Oyster Trail Part 1