The “R” rule may have been true 30 or 40 years ago, but thanks to advances in aquaculture it has fallen by the wayside. It used to be fishermen dug for oysters only in the colder “R” months (September through April) to avoid the spawning season.
Warm waters (above 60 degrees) encourage spawning, rendering oysters bland, soft-textured, and small. Once the spawning season is complete, oysters are generally plumper and better-tasting, thus commanding a higher price tag.
Today’s oysters are more likely to be farmed than found, with farmers having more control over the conditions in which they are grown, harvested, and stored. This means that oyster cultivators can plant oysters in cold waters, thereby staggering spawning and keeping their product available year-round. So forget the “R” rule—any time is fine for eating oysters.
* No frogs were harmed in the making of this stew. *
1 ½ gallons water
juice of 1 lemon
salt to taste
3 tablespoons Old Bay Seasoning
2 pounds kielbasa, cut into ½ inch slices
10 to 12 ears of corn on the cob
4 pounds of shrimp in the shell
4 pounds stone crab (these are usually pre-cooked)
onions and new or red potatoes
Cook onions and potatoes until softened. In a large stock pot over medium high heat, add the water, lemon, salt and Old Bay Seasoning. Bring it to a boil.
Add the sausage and gently boil, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Add corn on the cob broken into 3 inch pieces and continue cooking an additional five minutes. Add shrimp and stone crab and cook an additional three minutes longer. This is just enough time to cook the shrimp and heat up the pre-cooked stone crab. Remove from heat, drain immediately and serve.
4 soft-shell blue crabs
About 2 cups buttermilk, or just enough to cover the crabs
A few shakes of Tabasco
All-purpose flour seasoned with salt and black pepper
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
Place the soft-shell crabs in a shallow dish. In a bowl, combine the buttermilk and Tabasco. Pour the combination over the crabs and let sit for at least 5 minutes. Place the seasoned flour in another shallow dish. Remove the crabs from the buttermilk. Allow the excess buttermilk to drip off. Dredge the crabs in the seasoned flour.
Place a frying pan over medium heat and add the butter. When the butter has melted, slip in the crabs. Fry them for a few minutes until the undersides are lightly browned, then turn them over and fry the other side. Serve warm.
3 pounds rock salt
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
2 tablespoons black peppercorns
4 bay leaves
10 sprigs fresh thyme
1 head garlic, cloves smashed and skin removed
1 jalapeño, sliced, with seeds
2 lemon wedges
2 pounds large head-on shrimp Mississippi Comeback Sauce for dipping
Preheat the oven to 475˚F.
Combine the rock salt, coriander, peppercorns, bay leaves, thyme, garlic, jalapeño, and lemon wedges in a large bowl and mix well.
Pour half of the salt-spice mixture into a large, oven-safe baking dish and place it in the oven to preheat for 10 to 12 minutes, until the salt becomes hot. Remove from the oven, lay the shrimp in the salt, and add the remaining salt to cover the shrimp.
Return the pan to the oven and bake for an additional 8 to 12 minutes, until the shrimp are just cooked through. Using tongs, remove the shrimp from the salt and transfer to a plate. Serve with a bowl of Comeback Sauce for dipping.
1 gallon water
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 cup sliced onions
3 bay leaves
⅓ cup capers
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup cider vinegar
½ cup olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon celery seeds
1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
Heat the water in a large pot over high heat and bring to a hard boil. Add 2 tablespoons of the salt and stir to dissolve. Add the shrimp and boil just until they turn pink, about 30 seconds or so. Drain.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine the onions, bay leaves, capers without juice, lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil, garlic, remaining 1 teaspoon salt, celery seeds, pepper flakes, and parsley. Transfer the shrimp to the marinade.