Tag Archives: oysters on the half shell

Grocery Store Bingo and a New England Lobster Bake for 100

The lobsters we were eating on Saturday had been in the water the day before, and the taste was absolutely exquisite accordingly.

“Duh-ya-wanna-enta-thuh-Shaws-prize-contest?”, mumbled the teenage cashier at the local grocery store, hip cocked to one side, doing her best to make sure everyone around her knew just how cool she was, and how uncool she thinks being a grocery checkout girl is.

“Excuse me?”, I asked, having only caught about every third word amidst her smacking gum, thick Boston accent, and general disdain for all around her.


“I’m sorry, what?”

Realizing she had a foreigner in her midst, she sighed impatiently, shifted to her other hip, and began explaining it to me, slowly, as though I didn’t speak her language, which I suppose in a way, I don’t. “It’s like thuh stupidest thing ya eva heard of. You get tickets wheneva ya buy groceries and then you try and put them on a board. Maybe ya win something…but I gotta a ton ah tickets at home and I haven’t won anything yet. Dun think they give out the winning tickets until August or sumpa stupid like that. I’m a hoping to win the cahr…my Jeep only a gets like 15 miles puh gallon so I could really use it.”

“Oh…like grocery store Bingo?”, I asked, still confused, and trying to hide my smile at the honesty and intimacy she was sharing.

“Yah, like grocery stahr bingo…that’s it.”

“Well, I live in Seattle, so I don’t think the tickets will do me much good. Would you like to have my tickets though? Up your chances for the car?” I asked, still chuckling at the idea of a town wide grocery store bingo, loving this teenage girl, and wondering what the homies on Rainier would think if we imported this to the left coast.

“Nah, we associates got our own league…it’s like even stupid-aher, freaking impossible. Paper or plastic?”


Lobster Bakes and Clambakes are ubiquitous with the Northshore…right up there with grocery store bingo, pink (I mean salmon) shorts, crazy drivers, beautiful homes bought with old money, and an insatiable desire for gossip.

With July temperatures easily reaching 90, and humidity making your hair look like you never thought possible, it makes sense that casual summer events where the cooking takes place outside, and exquisite ingredients stand on their own, would be top of the list.

Beautiful oysters on the half-shell, also pulled just hours before we ate them and offering the freshest, crispest taste of the sea.

My brother Ben, who is one of the most generous people I know and just generally a hell of a good guy, has for multiple years hosted a Lobster Bake-Clambake-Oyster Fest of epic proportion. This year’s made all other years pale in comparison with 137 lbs of lobster caught by my Uncle Jeff, a renowned Cape Cod Lobsterman, as the headliner, and a bushel each of mussels and clams, and 150 of some of the best oysters you’ve ever had playing backup.

Lobsters were cooked all day, bacon cheddar burgers were grilled all night, Mussels Meuniere for 50 provided the perfect appetizer, steamer clams with dill, butter, and beer got gobbled up, oysters on the half shell got slurped down, and many laughs were had while enjoying Ipswich’s famous local libations of Ipswich Ale and Turkey Shore Distillery.

A barrel of rum from Turkey Shore Distillery, perfect with a boot of Root Beer from the Tapmobile.

The Tapmobile, featuring different Ipswich Ales, and the best root beer you’ve ever tasted.

My only regret, and the sting was sharp this morning as I flew the 3,000 miles back across the country at 4a PST, was that I wouldn’t be having a lobster roll for lunch today.

New England Lobster Bake
Serves 100

Ever wondered what 137 lbs of lobster looks like?

  • 137 lbs hard shell lobsters, boiled, and kept warm in coolers.
    • To boil, bring a large pot of water to a boil over a propane boiler outside. Once boiling, plunge lobsters into the water. Cook 5 minutes for the first pound and an additional 3 minutes  for each additional pound. Lobster is cooked when the shell is entirely red. Lobster will keep warm in coolers for multiple hours.
  • 1 bushel steamer clams, well rinsed, and steamed with beer, dill, and butter.
    • In a large pot (same as you used for the lobsters if you like), add 1 gallon light beer, 1 stick of butter, and 1 cup of dill. Bring to a boil, add the steamers, and cook until all shells are open. Transfer to a cooler to keep warm and strain the broth for dipping.
  • 1 bushel mussels, well rinsed, and cooked as Mussels Meuniere
    • In a large pot, add 2 bottles of white wine, 1 stick of butter, 10 shallots, finely diced, 2 cups parsley. Bring to a boil, add the mussels, and cook until all shells are open. Transfer to a cooler to keep warm and strain the broth for dipping.
  • 150 oysters, schucked
    • Serve on the half shell on a bed of ice, with assorted toppings such as lemon wedges, horseradish, and Tabasco.
  • 10 lbs butter, melted and kept warm


Filed under Entertaining, Seafood, Seasonal Cooking, Uncategorized

Welcome 2011: Oyster Shooters and Oysters on the Half Shell

Oysters on the Half Shell

Oysters on the Half Shell with Tobiko

Happy New Year fearless Shut Up and Cook readers!

First of all, I’d like to say thanks for being here. 2010 was an exciting year for this blog and many new subscribers and readers became a part of the conversation. It’s very fun to realize that it’s not just friends and family reading this (usually who  I’ve bullied into submission), as well as hearing from people all over the world about how food fits into their lives. I hope you all will continue to join the conversation this year.

The start of the New Year is one of my favorite times. Like everyone, I fall prey to the endless optimism and possibilities a clean slate creates. I walk around making lists and grand declarations such as:

  • “I’m definitely going to exercise more this year.”
  • “Sure am planning on drinking less.”
  • “I know! I’m going to write more letters.”
  • “Oh yeah, and I’m going to keep in better touch with my brothers.”

The list of things that one can achieve is endless. The reality of actually achieving all these things is daunting at best. So this year, in a very un-Erina like fashion I’m going to give the lists a break (you can be sure I’ll be archiving them though for future reference) and try to achieve one basic and yet seemingly impossible achievement which is to simply appreciate the moment that I’m in and the opportunities it provides. I am actually able to do this quite well in the kitchen, so hoping to translate that out to other facets of my life.

As a toast to this New Plan for the New Year we brought in 2011 with Oyster Shooters and Oysters on the Half Shell. These little guys definitely require you to be in the moment because if you spend too long thinking about what you’re eating my stomach tends to do a little flip. Make sure you get really fresh oysters from a reputable fish market and don’t try to save pennies with cheap vodka. You don’t need the really fancy stuff but you don’t want it to taint the oysters.

These are very elegant appetizers and a festive treat for any holiday party. Figure 2-3 per person if folks aren’t frequent oyster eaters, 4-6 if they’re fans. And be careful…those shots of vodka go down easy!

What did you make to bring in the New Year?

Oyster Shooters

Oyster Shooters

Oyster Shooters

1 TB cocktail sauce

1 oyster shucked, with accompanying liquid saved (experiment with different kinds of oysters, they offer surprisingly unique flavors)

1 shot vodka, such as Absolut

1 tsp fresh lemon juice

  1. In a small shot glass add cocktail sauce.
  2. With an oyster knife, gently pop open the oyster. This is easiest to do when holding the oyster in a dish towel so that you don’t cut yourself on the shell. Be sure to do it over a bowl so you can reserve the liquid in the oyster. Most people think brute force is required, but really what you’re looking for is a bit of leverage and popping open the oyster at the right spot. Hold the oyster so that its curved shell faces down and its flatter side faces up. Insert an oyster knife between the shells, near the hinge. Warning: Don’t use a nice pairing knife or something for this because odds are it’ll break. Giving the knife a twist, pop open the shell (remember, try to keep the liquid in the shell!) and remove the top shell. Scrape the meat from the top shell into the bottom shell and reserved juices. Be careful no shell fragments are there and if so, simply remove.
  3. Add the oyster and its juices to the shot glass and top with vodka and lemon juice.
  4. Drink in one sip without thinking about it!

Oysters on the Half Shell

1 oyster shucked, liquid saved in bottom shell, top shell discarded (see above for how to)

1/2 tsp hot sauce

1 tsp lemon juice

Sprinkle of tobiko

  1. Add hot sauce, lemon juice and tobiko to half shell with oyster and reserved liquid.
  2. Down the hatch!


Filed under Uncategorized