Sure, I love smoked salmon on a salad and gravlox with capers, but I also love smoked mussels and smoked oysters right out of the can. "That's not ultra farmer-market fresh" you might say, but throw that smokey, delicious shellfish onto a farmer market salad and perhaps we can come to some sort of an agreement. I'll take a smoked trout salad with avocado on butter lettuce over a foie gras topped filet Mignon any day of the week.
Perhaps it's the imitation crab sticks in the refrigerator snack drawer that were always there, or the 2 pounds of steamed clams that was often a favorite of my mothers as an ideal main course for dinner. I can see the large bowl of grey, steaming clams, mouths wide in the middle of our family table, my brother and I with our little dishes of melted butter, and my dad- always with his bread and butter to soak up the clams' juices.I remember playing Atari in the living room with my brother and as a snack, we would be given a fork and kippered fish still in the can. Healthy for sure- all those lovely omega-3s, but a bit odd compared to apple slices that most kids ate. Of course we ate tuna fish sandwiches, but my restless Gemini mother knew there were more fish options out there- be it canned, fresh, cracked, fried or smoked, we tried them all. Sometimes we were given half of a steamed Dungeness crab over newspaper, creamy oyster stew with sourdough or shellfish-rich cioppino for our Christmas dinner.
I could blame it on my scant amount of Norwegian ancestry or my cravings for oily-rich vitamin D for my Seattle skin-what ever the reason for my salty seafood cravings, one thing is certain,
I believe there is an incredible under estimation of the beauty of smoked and canned seafood. All of these delicious memories should indeed be followed by a canned or smoked recipe. So here you go:
Picnic of Smoked Oysters and Gooey Brie
Makes 1 picnic plate for 2
1 can of good quality smoked oysters
6 slices ripe pear or crisp apple6 slices of ripe avocado
1 demi fresh baguette artisan bread, sliced
One 3 oz. piece of triple cream French brie (or camembert)
2 c. fresh torn lettuce, (mix baby greens or butter lettuce)high quality extra virgin olive oil
coarse salt and cracked black pepper
** Wine pairing suggestion: a bright Pinot Gris, mineral Rose or a crisp Riesling
Open the can of oysters and place them on a small plate. Place that plate onto a large platter. Arrange the pear, avocado, baguette slices around the plate. Place the wedge of gooey cheese onto the platter with a broad cheese knife. Toss the greens with a little olive oil and salt and pepper and distribute greens onto two serving plates. Encourage your guest to spread the gooey cheese onto a slice of bread and top it with a smoked oyster. Or try a baguette slice with cheese and avocado, or cheese and pear. The idea is to encourage flavor experimentation. The basic olive oil greens add a nice simple salad in contrast to the rich cheese and oysters. Like with any recipe- adding or subtracting different ingredients is all part of the cooking process. Perhaps add some duck rillet or tangerine slices to this simple picnic.