For this edition of Fl. Sea Grant’s Seafood at your fingertips LIVE! I have teamed up with my batty sister, Rebecca Nelson to share two of our recipes we entered in the Apalachicola Oyster Cook-off in 2020. This annual event draws locals and tourists from around the area to Apalachicola to enjoy local seafood.
The Batty Sisters have participated the past 3 years and two of our recipes have placed third in the cookoff. There is heavy competition from local restaurants and professional chefs. It is a fun event and local fundraiser for the Apalachicola Volunteer Fire Department. The Batty Sisters have raised more than $1500 to support the Apalachicola Volunteer Fire Department by selling oyster dishes, drinks, and spins on the wheel of Seafood Knowledge game. In preparation for the event, we try many different combinations of oyster dishes to come up with our annual entries.
Oysters are a great source of protein, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids. They can be eaten raw, fried, baked, broiled, grilled, roasted, poached, stewed, sautéed, and smoked. They can be purchased as live shell stock or freshly shucked. You can purchase oysters at your local seafood market and in some grocery store seafood sections.
Oyster populations have declined throughout the world. There are many efforts being done to re-establish oyster populations. Oyster populations In the Western Panhandle are no different. In the Pensacola Bay system, there are many efforts that involve stakeholders to develop an oyster management plan. Click here to learn more.
Apalachicola Bay is the bay is closed to commercial and recreational harvest on a temporary basis at this time; until this gets addressed at a full Fl. Fish and Wildlife Commissioner’s meeting for final approval of a rule. Wild harvest of oysters still exist in other parts of Florida. Check out the Fl. Department of Agriculture’s Shellfish Harvesting maps, to learn where wild oysters are harvested.
A wild oyster harvester in Florida uses long tongs to reach oysters that live in shallow areas of estuaries. Wild oysters are heavily regulated for population, commercial and recreational harvest, storage, processing and consumption by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commision, and the National Shellfish Sanitation Program. The Interstate Shellfish Sanitation Conference works to promote shellfish sanitation through the cooperation of state and federal agencies, members of the shellfish industry and the academic community.
Shellfish Aquaculture is a growing industry along the Gulf Coast. Many farms are run by local families. Shellfish are grown in bags or cages in the water column. Check out the UF/IFAS Florida Shellfish Aquaculture site for more information on shellfish aquaculture.
Enjoy these two delicious oyster recipes and join us LIVE on October 14, 2020 at 5 pm central time as we demonstrate cooking freshly shucked oysters.
Oysters in Poblano Peppers
6 poblano Peppers, charred and peeled
1 pint of shucked oysters
4 tablespoons of butter
2 tablespoons of shredded or flaked parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons of whipping cream
4 gloves of fresh garlic chopped fine
Char the poblano peppers on your stove or grill, cool in a paper bag or covered dish. Peel the skin off the peppers and set aside.
Sauté oysters and ½ the garlic in 2 tablespoons of butter and the liquid from the oysters.
Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in small sauté pan. Add 2 tablespoons of whipping cream. Stir to mix and add the parmesan cheese. Warm until creamy.
Place the peppers (or in some cases, pepper pieces) in a small dish. Fill with oysters and top with cream sauce. Garnish with chopped parsley or chives. Enjoy!
Makes 6 servings
Oysters Rockefeller Empanadas
1 pint of shucked oysters, drained, saving 3 tbls of the liquid for the sauce.
1-2 cloves crushed garlic
2 tbls butter + 1 tbl butter
1 tbl flour
½ cup cream
4 tbs grated parmesan cheese
2 tbl herbed cream cheese, such as Borusin garlic and herb spread
1 cup chopped spinach
1 pack of 10- 5” empanada wrappers (or pie dough cut into 5” rounds)
If frying, peanut or canola oil
Sauté garlic in 2 tbls butter until soft and fragrant
Add oysters and gently cook, for 1-2 minutes.
In a separate frying pan, add butter and flour and cook on medium heat for 1-2 minutes.
Reduce heat to low and add cream, parmesan, herbed cream cheese and spinach.
Add 2-3 tbls of the oyster liquor (liquid that the oysters are in).
Pour in butter/garlic liquid from the pan the oysters were cooked in.
Simmer and stir until the cheese is melted and the sauce is creamy.
Assemble and Cook Empanadas
Place a dollop (1-2 tbls) of sauce and two oysters in the center of each dough round.
Fold in half, keeping the filling in the center and seal the edges together by crimping with your fingers or using a fork.
Bake at 350o until golden brown, about 20-25 minutes.
Or, deep fry in peanut or canola oil at 375 o, until golden brown, about 5-6 minutes
Empanadas can be served with remaining sauce, warmed.
Recipe makes 10 empanadas.