Sunday, May 1, 2011

Raw vs. Roast: Oysters and Bone Marrow

They told me oysters were an aphrodisiac.  I would describe as more like a sloppy, seawater kiss.  My first oysters tasted like how I imagine slimy, frog tongues taste.  These grey, ghost-like forms floated on top of puddles of briny ‘oyster liquor’.  Once I slurped the nectar from the shell, I was instructed to gulp down the rest of it whole.  Slowly, it slithered down - that cold, fat, amorphous glob.  The second one was given a quick chew.  I found its texture to be like rubbery flesh and the aftertaste to be straight salt-water.  It’s not that I had a “bad oyster” (admittedly it was a pestering thought on my mind – I have heard the stories!), I just like being able to chew what I eat, and not feel repulsed by what goes down.  Why I still appreciate the oyster is because it stemmed from the challenge to prepare food that had not been tried before.  For me, the reward of these oysters was not the taste, but rather the excitement leading up to the completion of a dare. 
 Shucking oysters would seem to be a job reserved for only hardened seafarers, the Brawny Man, or Chuck Norris.   But a sharp finesse and a good angle can take you a long way.  I remained constantly haunted by the image of slicing through the web of my fingers.  I needed step-by-step instructions, and hands on, guided assistance. That is why I provide you with this link to hopefully help:  

I gingerly placed a teaspoon of mignonette into the oyster shells, open like bodies waiting for autopsy. The mignonette, made of diced shallots, red wine vinegar, fresh parsley, and black pepper, was my lifesaver while eating these.  I enjoyed that more than chasing with a shot of Belvedere vodka. 
So while the oysters were a bit too much to swallow, I am considering keeping meat-butter on hand.  What’s meat-butter, you say?  Sold in stores as bone marrow, we dubbed it meat-butter.  Spreadable, creamy, and extremely dense, it satisfies like an entree and only costs you $2 a pound.  Seldom have I felt a stronger urge from my inner carnivore.  The taste is unforgettable, perhaps because its consumption seems so sinfully taboo.  The marrow itself is chalk full of vitamins and minerals, so there is a reason it is treasured by your natural heart.  Roasting the bones is simple and takes less than a half hour.  In a 450˚F oven, roast the bones for 15-20 minutes.  Fat will leak out of the bottom, so make sure you have a pan that can capture the fatty goodness.  When the marrow starts to bubble slightly, it is ready to be eaten.  Larger bones will take longer.   
 The only negative is that bone marrow is not highly photogenic.  Granted, we did eat the marrow pretty rare.  The pasty-pink color in the photo doesn’t capture the true golden shimmering of the rose colored marrow.  It can have a globby texture but, I appreciated its delicacy.  Toasted slices of French bread served as the base, and the marrow was placed on top of a bed of crunchy, citrus parsley salad.  It was as light as an appetizer, but hefty enough to satisfy your protein craving.  It’s definitely not something you will see at the cafeteria, and I would be surprised to see it on even a high-class restaurant’s menu.  But making it is a) novel for the guest and b) cheap for the host.  Some groceries do carry it, just call ahead and ask.

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