Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Oysters At Frank's Seafood In Jessup

My drive for better ingredients keep taking me to Jessup where I buy fish at Frank's Seafood in the wholesale seafood market.

Last weekend, I went for shrimp to flavor a pasta dish, but I also picked up a dozen oysters.  They had four varieties, and I picked the Maryland locals ($9/dozen) because I was just making a treat to surprise my father.

Crabs dominate my Frank's trips in summertime, but they still have terrific whole fish, wild shrimp and shell fish now.  Shucking raw oysters intimidates me, especially because I don't have the knives to do it.  But a Frank's customer ordered them, and, after I asked, he explained that he was going to grill them at home.

Two minutes or so on the grill, and the oysters pop open.  I pulled them all once I could see that two or three had separated.  They don't cook enough to interest Mrs. HowChow, but the gap made them easy to pry onto a half-shell with a screwdriver that I had sterilized in a gas flame. The meat was firmer than straight raw, but they still had the clean ocean taste, the slightly salty bite that makes them so unique.

Remember the oysters get really hot on the grill.  I wore an oven mitt and tried to keep them steady as I pulled them off the fire.  I lost a little oyster juice into the flame, but it was a pretty simple operation.

Does anyone else have suggestions for Frank's?  Supermarket shrimp disappoint me, and I won't buy farmed ones anymore because I saw one too many description of how that's done.  I go to Frank's for crabs, shrimp and now oysters, but I'd like to branch into whole fish.  Anyone suggest a cookbook that teaches those techniques?

(Update: I went back and bought a shucking knife at Frank's with a second batch of oysters.  They were "salts" cultivated in Virginia.   It was an easy skill to pick up, and they were delicious -- a touch saltier than the locals.)


Marcia said...

I haven't gotten into cooking whole fish yet, but I'd wager you can find good instructions online. Don't forget Franks has really good cleaned fish too (filets or steaks): tuna, salmon, halibut, etc. And check their website for coupons and recipes. Everything I've gotten has been fresh, sourced, and properly handled. In season, I always buy my picked crabmeat there.

Marcia said...

I forgot - get their scallops, you won't buy them at the grocery store (except Wegmans) ever again. Grilled, sauteed, broiled - just the best. Sweet and tender, no artificial anything.

Penny said...

I used to do deliveries for a Chinese restaurant, where I became friends with the family, including the chef. I love to cook whole fish. I usually steam it in one of those wicker steamer baskets you see in Asian markets (they may even have them at Bed, Bath and Beyond), putting the whole fish in one basket and some vegetables in the other, over a wok with boiling oil. Or, if you don't have a wicker steamer basket, you can put foil down on a baking tray, and then put another foil sheet on top of that, and then put the fish on top of the foil, and fold the top sheet around and over the fish, tenting it so that there's a large pocket of air.

To season the fish: scallions, ginger, and cilantro sliced and stuffed in the fish belly, then pour a sauce of low-sodium soy sauce, rice wine, oil, a little sesame oil, and sugar over the fish. I usually mix the ingredients until it tastes right, but there are a ton of recipes on the web (google "Chinese Steamed Fish"). I think the rule is 8 minutes per inch of thickness. Keep some extra scallions and cilantro to sprinkle over the fish when it's done.

Penny said...

Oh, and I just went to Frank's a few weekends ago, on your suggestion. That place is AWESOME! I can't wait to bring my better half there. He was sick at the time, so I was making cioppino. What an assortment!

Anonymous said...

The guys at Franks are a great resource - just talk to them about the kind of fish you like and how you want to try to cook it, and then can recommend a fish to try and tell you more about how to cook it.

Mo said...

I get mussels often at Franks, they're very good and I trust them more than what's been sitting at the supermarket. There are tons of ways to cook them up.

RE whole fish... there are good techniques sections in the new Joy of Cooking and in How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman - more general than you're asking for, but good references.

In general though, like Penny said... we stuff the inside cavity of whole fish with fresh herbs and a little garlic, drizzle the fish in olive oil, wrap it in a foil packet and cook til done. You can also put it on a bed of fennel/leeks, or add some mayo (it melts into a sauce, I promise its not gross - goes surprisingly well with an already oily fish like blue).

My mother also raved the other day about a fish dish she used to make that involved pouring screaming hot oil over the whole fish once it was done, to crisp the skin. I'm still bugging her for the recipe.

A very small fish, like smelt, are really good deep fried, hit with salt and lemon, scarfed while still hot. They're small enough that the bones aren't really noticeable.

Anonymous said...

from the howard county permitting website (http://www.howardcountymd.gov/DILP/DOCS/marketingjan11.pdf):


looks like dobbin center will be getting maryland's first tropical smoothie cafe. it seems they're taking part of the baja fresh space (although BF seems to be remaining open, albeit in a reduced footprint).

Anonymous said...

Hi Howchow, just last Friday, I got a whole rockfish from H Mart. I prepared a pesto of sorts with green onions, mint, olive oil, juice of half a lemon. I scored the fish, salt and peppered it and smeared half the prepared pesto on the fish, inside and out. I sliced remaining lemon half and place inside the fish, with a few sprigs of mint. I broiled fish in the oven at 5 minutes per side. Sadly I found that this is too short a time. Had to return fish to the oven for another 5 minutes per side. Other than that the fish was pretty good. In my opinion whole fish is always tastier than fillets or steaks. Go for it.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I forgot. The remaining half of the pesto is used as sauce. We had the fish with steamed rice, but a crusty bread will be just as great.

Anonymous said...

Mo: My Filipino Mother in law makes a dish just like that.

I have a recipe if you are interested, I can post it here.

Penny said...

Oh god! I just noticed that I wrote "BOILING OIL." It was early yet. I meant water. Do NOT cook the fish over boiling oil, please, do not.

Also, the family always pointed the head toward the guest of honor, maybe because fish cheeks are delicious.

HowChow said...

I love all the comments. I hope this is useful and fun for other people, and it's certainly a great way for me to learn. Remember -- three paragraphs and a cell phone photo make a guest post or a "Trolling."

As a practical matter, I need to figure out how to serve whole fish. Too often, I grill whole fish, and I end up shredding the meat when I try to follow some recipe that says "lift off the filet." I'm going to try one of these steaming ideas. Maybe that will be more stable for a beginner.

Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

This is my MiLs recipe:

Ingredients: Red snapper (large)
chopped ginger 2-3 tbsp
spring onions 1/2 cup
soy sauce 1/2 cup
vegetable oil 2 tbsp
salt and pepper

Cut slits on both sides of the fish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Insert ginger in between slits and into the stomach.

Place the fish on a foil. Fold the sides of the foil to about an inch (like a make-shift tray). Then place this on a steamer rack and steam for about 20-30 mins. depending on the size of the fish. Then place it on a platter. Sprinkle with spring onions and a little bit of the drippings from the fish.

Boil about 2 tablespoons of oil. While it is very hot, pour slowly over the fish. Then pour the soy sauce.

Josh K said...

Based on my very limited experience, you should be able to get them shuck the oysters for you. If you can resist the temptation to eat them in the parking lot, they should make it home on the half shell if you are going to serve them immediately.

Frank’s also often sells sushi grade fish, for those who like things raw.

Anonymous said...

There is also Today's Catch in the Wilde Lake shopping center that sells oysters, shrimp, sushi grade fish, whole fish, just about everything you need seafood wise.

We bought oysters at Today's Catch and they taught how to shuck them--actually not too hard to do!

Matt said...

I buy my shrimp at Costco. Usually they have them by the pound and the 4 lb container (very reasonably priced at $37.99). The pounds are 9.99 I think, and all of them are 12-15 size I believe. The scallops are very good and reasonable as well. They also have nicely priced (and tasty) tilipia and salmon as well. If you know someone with a membership-take a trip with them!!