Sunday, March 23, 2014

food, bagged and shelled

There is the Ascent 20 liter dry bag, picked up just the other day at Bass Pro Shops and now packed with a dozen freeze dried meals.  On a cold windy day, getting colder and windier by the minute, what else to do other than think about the spring trip?  The bag seems to be a quality product, with D-rings on two sides and a strap handle on just one side.

The yellow bag will replace the green bag, seen at right as Spartina leaves the Alligator/Pungo River Canal on day three of last fall's trip.  I kept that dry bag bungeed alongside the hull but it kept slipping out from underneath the bungee cords.  With the D-rings on the new bag I believe I will be able to position it more securely. 

I've had some questions about - as Baydog describes them - the crab garni mixed in with the steamed oysters from Wanchese.  Those are oyster crabs, knows as Zaops ostreus to scientists and as a delicacy to the gourmand.  These crabs (I've read it is just the females but don't know that for a fact? live inside the gills of both oysters and clams, using the shell for protection and living on bits of food that are brought in by the shellfish circulating water through its system.

Oyster crabs have a soft shell and can be steamed and eaten with the oysters, adding a little texture and taste.  My experience is that I will find one of two crabs in a dozen shellfish, but lately I've come across a higher percentage in locally bought oysters.  Sharing some Rock Piles with a neighbor the other day, we found crabs in about half of the oysters.  Steamed oysters from O'Neals SeaHarvest in Wanchese, above, came with crabs in nearly every shell, something the owner bragged about when we placed our orders.

Okay, okay, I get it.  A little bit squeamish about the tiny crabs?  Don't take it from me, but at least consider an article in the New York Times headlined "Oyster Crabs-The Epicure's Delight."  Yes, it's an old article - 1913 - but it talks about oyster packing houses collecting the oyster crabs and selling them in jars, either live the day there were collected or blanched and bottled to be served later.  Uncle Chuck, my shellfish guy, says that at one time they could be bought at New York's old Fulton Fish Market at a very dear price.

Speaking of oysters and Baydog, his recipe for oysters and shiitake mushrooms is on tap for dinner tonight.  I wonder if I will find any crabs in the oysters....


Baydog said...

Steve, I'm thrilled you love that recipe and continue to refer to it. I know you added an extra dimension of wild rice to your first attempt and it looked great. I failed to include one important item in that recipe which should always be in a savory preparation: onion. Or shallot. You should first saute some minced onion or shallot before adding the jalapenos and mushrooms. I'm surprised I didn't include that at the time of posting. Enjoy dinner tonight; I may just need to go get some for myself today...last week I had some Rappahannocks and Sewansecotts, thinking of you all the while!

Steve said...

that is a guaranteed twice a winter meal for us. I have experimented with garlic and onions, using a different version each time. Yesterday I roasted and peeled the jalapeños, chopping the smoky flesh up before tossing in the pan. Also roasted tiny grape tomatoes to sprinkle over dish just before serving- looked at tasted great.
As always, thanks!

Baydog said...

I love improv. You've inspired my hors d'Oeuvres tonight!