Local author Cynthia Nims considers the bivalve.
Books for Cooks
Times food writers recommend: “Oysters: Recipes that Bring Home a Taste of the Sea,” by Cynthia Nims (Sasquatch Books, $19.95.)
What’s special: Useful information and 30 tempting recipes from a Seattle food writer with a particular specialization in seafood. Nims, a native Northwesterner, surveys everything from shopping and shucking to serving and slurping. Recipes, seductively photographed by Jim Henkens, range from classic mignonettes to fried oyster sliders to cider-poached oysters on toast.
Upcoming events: Nims will speak at a free event at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 2 at Book Larder, 4252 Fremont Ave. N., Seattle. She will also lead an oyster-cooking class at 6 p.m. Feb. 11 at the Hot Stove Society in the Hotel Andra, 2000 Fourth Ave., Seattle ($90, including a copy of the book; tickets online at hotstovesociety.com)
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Makes about 4 to 6 servings
3 strips thick-cut bacon, cut across into ¼-inch pieces
1 medium leek, trimmed and cleaned, white and light-green parts thinly sliced
8 ounces Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed and cut into ¼-inch dice
3 cups half-and-half
16 to 20 ounces jarred yearling or extra-small oysters, with their liquor
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Minced fresh chives or flat-leaf parsley, for serving
Chive blossoms, for serving (optional)
1. Fry the bacon in a medium, heavy-bottomed sauce pan over medium heat until aromatic and much of the fat has rendered, 3 to 5 minutes. (The bacon shouldn’t brown much, reduce the heat if needed.) If there is more than a couple tablespoons of fat, pour off the excess (it can be saved for another use).
2. Add the leek to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender but not browned (as before, reduce the heat if needed to avoid browning), 3 to 5 minutes. Add the potatoes and half-and-half, bring just to a low boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover the pan, and simmer gently until the potatoes are tender, 10 to 12 minutes.
3. Add the oysters and their liquor. Simmer, uncovered, over medium heat, stirring gently now and then, until the oysters are plump and their edges are curled, 3 to 4 minutes. Season the chowder to taste with salt and pepper.
4. To serve, ladle the chowder into individual warmed shallow bowls, sprinkle with the chives and chive blossoms, and serve right away.