Shellfish gathering has become a focal point for folks in the Puget Sound and Hood Canal region, and oysters are fairly easy to find along many local shorelines.
This week, Jason Wilson, executive chef and owner of Miller’s Guild and executive chef of Coffee Flour, offers a delightful and easy-to-prepare recipe for Cucumber “Gazpacho” with Shigoku Oysters and Bacon.
Wilson was recognized for his first restaurant, Crush, and built on his culinary credibility when he opened Miller’s Guild, a modern steakhouse in 2013. He won a James Beard Award for Best Chef Northwest in 2010. Now, he is planning to open a restaurant in the forthcoming hotel, W Bellevue, in 2017.
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Where and when to gather oysters
An extreme low tide will expose a lot of Puget Sound and Hood Canal beaches for oysters on Wednesday and Thursday, May 25-26, and then again from June 2-9
Three beaches where the oyster gathering season was either lengthened or dates shifted include the Potlatch Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Tidelands and Potlatch State Park in Hood Canal, which are open now through July 15; and Sequim Bay State Park open now through June 30.
Surveys taken at Sequim Bay State Park indicate the oyster population has increased, and Potlatch DNR and Potlatch State Park indicate that oyster population can support a longer season. The bonus is these oyster seasons also coincide with clam seasons on those beaches.
Other popular places to find oysters are Dosewallips State Park, Belfair State Park, Lilliwaup, Duckabush, Point Whitney Tidelands and Lagoon, Quilcene Bay and Twanoh Beach State Park. Note: All eastern mainland beaches from Everett south into southern Puget Sound are also closed for shellfish due to unsafe pollution levels.
Before heading to a beach, know the rules first by checking the regulation pamphlet. Then check the state Fish and Wildlife web site at http://wdfw.wa.gov, the state fisheries hotline at 866-880-5431 or http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/. State Fish and Wildlife also offers a good interactive shellfish map at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/beaches/.
Lastly, call the marine biotoxin hotline at 800-562-5632 or visit the Department of Health web site at www.doh.wa.gov/CommunityandEnvironment/Shellfish.aspx.
Cucumber “Gazpacho” with Shigoku Oysters and Bacon
By Chef Jason Wilson; serves 4
(Note: While the recipe calls for Shigoku oysters, any variety of oysters can be used, and good alternatives are Olympia, Sushi and Kumamoto oysters.)
For the “gazpacho”:
12 “plus 1 for the chef “ fresh Shigoku Oysters, fully shucked
1 pound fresh snap peas, blanched
1 quart chilled vegetable stock
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 medium organic cucumbers, peeled and seeded
3 sprigs mint
2 stems basil
1/4 bunch cilantro
1 teaspoon toasted cumin
1 teaspoon toasted coriander
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup green grapes
For the salad:
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3 sprigs fresh dill, chopped well
1 jalapeno, minced
1/2 cup fresh english peas, blanched and chilled
1 large english cucumber, peeled and diced
2 tablespoon lime juice
2 tablespoon sour cream
Salt as needed
1/4 cup of chopped marcona almonds
4 radishes sliced thin
1/4 cup of cooked medium diced bacon
To make the “gazpacho”: Puree all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Adjust seasoning to taste. Allow 8-12 hours to rest in the refrigerator before serving. (Note: It’s not a traditional “gazpacho” soup, but does contain soup-like liquid element).
To make the salad: Mix together all of the salad ingredients in a large mixing bowl. To serve, divide into bowls, garnish with bacon, almonds and radishes, and finish by adding three oysters per serving to the top of each salad. Pour the “gazpacho” around each serving of salad. Serve chilled.
This season, esteemed local chefs will share recipes and advice on how to cook a wide variety of local seafood weekly through October.
This year’s lineup of chefs include Tom Douglas, owner of Lola, Palace Kitchen, Dahlia Lounge, among others; executive chef Jason Brzozowy of Maria Hines’ Tilth; chef Shota Nakajima, owner of Naka; chef Taichi Kitamura, owner of Sushi Kappo Tamura; executive chef Wesley Hood of AQUA by El Gaucho along with other chefs from El Gaucho, El Gaucho in Bellevue and The Inn at El Gaucho; executive chef Pat Donahue at Anthony’s Restaurants; Chef Jun Takai, from Shiro’s Sushi; Taylor Hoang, from Pho Cyclo; Chef Maximillian Petty, from Eden Hill; and Chef Megan Coombes, from Altstadt.
Recipes will be posted every Wednesday and/or Thursday through Nov. 2. Also, if you have a recipe you’d like to reel-in my way, please let me know and I will post them, and will even test it out with my family and friends.