This oyster stew comes from French Farmhouse Cookbook. If you’re a dumb American like me, you’re probably thinking it’s like a beef stew or like clam chowder only with oysters. It’s not. It’s simple in a bare minimum kind of way.
All it consists of is oysters in a crème fraîche and egg yolk mix.
This cookbook throws in some interesting history that is quite complicated unlike the stew.
For the history lesson, the author focuses on the region known as Brittany. The history of Brittany consists of a lot of unfortunate conquering starting with the Romans. The author notes that locals find roman artifacts from time to time. One artifact proved that the Romans enjoyed the oysters of Brittany just as much as modern people do.
When the Roman empire died out, the British moved in. In fact that’s why it’s called Brittany. Little Britain was used as a meeting grounds in the decades and decades of fighting between France and Britain. It’s funny that in present day we think of Britain and France as being weak compared to the US and Russia, but back in the day Britain and France were the equivalent of that comparison.
Their bitter rivalry is partly how the United States won the Revolutionary War.France and Britain were the most formidable armies at the time. Both wanted to conquer North America and Britain had just won some colonies in Canada. So when France caught wind that the U.S. was unhappy and wanted independence they were more than glad to help. They did so at first, by supplying the U.S. weapons underhand. Once the U.S. gained some ground, than France joined the fight openly.
This history was not mentioned in the cookbook, but I wanted to mention it because I’m an American and it fascinates me how power dynamics can change. It’s kind of comforting to me that every nation could have it’s due, so to speak. I wish that we could learn from other countries mistakes, though. The infinite pissing contest of who gets the power is exhausting and futile in the end.
As far as the history of oysters go, Brittany has had some hard times in that area as well. The author spoke to an Oyster fisherman, who told her about how one year many of the oysters became diseased and the farmers of Brittany had to turn to Japan for help. It worked, but the supply of oysters changed. The main staple of Brittany oysters are now a French-Japanese variety.
Then she speaks of a farmer who grows his oysters on an estuary in Breton. These oysters are highly valued, due to the difficulty to raise them without becoming diseased. There is a lot of meticulous factors that I find difficult to explain in regards to cultivating the right food, temperature, and more when growing oysters.
I had no idea oyster farming was so difficult. Thankfully this recipe isn’t.
Here’s what you need
- 3/4 of oyster liquor
- 1/4 cup of water
- 1/2 cups of crème fraîche or heavy whipping cream
- 2 large egg yolks
- 24 medium oysters, shucked
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh chives
Before you begin, I should note that I ended up going to a Korean grocery store and was able to find bottled oysters. This makes the shucking and liquor process a million times easier.
Whichever way you get your oysters the first step in making this stew is to cook the liquor and water in a saucepan over medium heat. You’ll want to bring this into a simmer and then whisk in the eggs and the crème fraîche. I used heavy whipping cream but I do recommend using crème fraîche if you can. It’s delicious.
As you whisk everything together, reduce the heat to medium-low. Whisk away some more until it thickens. This can take about 4 minutes.
The next step is to add the oysters. Stir them until their mantles furl a little. The mantles are the outer edges of the oyster. This process should take 2-3 minutes.
Once those oysters are cooked, you are ready to serve! Do so by placing them in a shallow bowl and sprinkling the chives on top.
I thought mine turned out well. I would have loved to have tried it with crème fraîche though. I’m still not into oysters either. I think they might be too juicy for me. I love mussels and I feel like mussels are similar. Mussels are also smaller so maybe that’s why? I’m not sure, but as I’ve said with other recipes, if you like this kind of thing then you’ll probably like the recipe.