Wookiee Hut Cuisine presents:
Oysters for the Admiral
by SuSu, MaceVindaloo, BunchBox

Admiral Akbar suffered his fare quietly. The humans who supplied the rebels procured the lowest common denominator for foods — the stuff beings of all types could ingest which would not kill them! He was fighting for a cause that was bigger than himself, and he didn't concern himself with his food.

Still, he was incredibly grateful when Han Solo managed to procure fresh oysters for him. "Oh my! Fresh!" Akbar knew these bivalves needed to be eaten when they were still living, for shellfish started to degrade dangerously once dead. How to inquired discretely and graciously about the freshness of the offering?

The smuggler smiled, "Booster started an aquafarm on that imp ship he captured, ordered me to bring these too you stat — he wants your opinion. And threatened to decompose me with the dead oysters if I failed to get them to you immediately!"

The aging admiral's hands shook as he shucked the first briny oyster and sucked it down ... his big occules rolled back as he declared, "Oh my ... oh my ..."

Shuck You
Raw oysters are said to increase sexual desire, but that may be caused by the shucked oysters' resemblance to female body parts ... this is a point of delection as well as repulsion for people, in general. But really, as long as the oysters are fresh and alive, they can be eaten without fear of an increased libido — other than the gratitude due to the person who procured these for you ...

This does take practice, and it may produce some swearing ... and the correct response (according to Akbar) is to yell back at the shucker, "shuck you!" and to laught hilarioiusly and imbibe in more oysters on the half shell!

    Preparation Tips Before Shucking An Oyster
  • Obtain a strong, stubby knife, preferably with a blunted point. Do not use a normal kitchen or butter knife. Some people swear by a squat chisel or churchkey style can opener for the hinge.
  • Protect your hands — use a thick towel folder several times, and have spares on hand. There are also gloves designed to protect you from stabbing through your hand. Pros even use chainmail-style mesh gloves.
  • Go slowly — there is no need to win a competition
  • You are looking to pop the oyster open by severing the muscles that hold the shells together. As the oyster is alive when you're shucking, it will resist you.
  • If there is no resistance, the oyster might be dead, and you should discard it to avoid problems.
  • Wash and scrub the oysters before you open them.
  • Some people like to put the oysters on crushed ice — to keep the liquid in the cup-shaped shell, and to help keep the oysters chilled. In reality, these should be served immediately, so ice is not critical. But it does do a good job of leveling the shells. Using a pile of sand or gravel would do just as well. Or coarse salt. Or a scrunched up towel.
    Opening the Oyster
  • Look at the oyster — there is a cup-shaped side and a flatter side, usually. Hold the oyster level on the towel, cup-shaped side on the bottom, to keep it from sliding or rocking around.
  • Put another towel over the top, between your hand and the oyster knife, exposing the hinge or pointed end. this will help protect your hands.
  • Work the point of the oyster knife into the hinge to break the hinge membrane — this takes some force, but the membrane is not deep into the oyster — less than half an inch in from the edge.
  • Once the hinge is broken, the top half will loosen or pop open. There is a second impediment before the oyster is shucked — the adductor muscle, which is closer to the middle of the oyster's body, rather than on the edges. This is how the oyster controls opening and closing of the two shells.
  • Slide the knife along the underside of the top shell and cut/scrape the muscle from the shell. at this piont, the top should come free.
  • Try not to lose the oyster liquor — if you're not going to drink it down, save it for Oyster Stew!
  • Once the top is free, slide the knife under the fleshy oyster to free it from the underside shell. The oyster will slide around freely once it's separated from the shell — slide your knife around beneath the flesh to ensure this, for a much better eating experience.
  • Slurp away! For truly fresh and tasty oysters, no sauce is needed. however, feel free to embellish with cocktail sauce or hot sauce or grated horseradish.
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Oyster Ceviche
Along with other hatchlings, Admiral Akbar was raised by a clutch nursery den/school mother, who had cure-alls for whatever ailed them. The medicines were not popular, but he quite liked this brew, purported to cure hangovers. Han was particularly interested in procuring the recipe for this. Akbar said the restorative liquid was called, "milk of the tiger," but he admitted he didn't really understand the idea of milk nor tigers!
  • 1 pound shucked fresh oysters, cut in half or sized for pleasant eating
  • 10 cherry tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup cliantro stems, chopped (reserve the leaves for garnish)
  • citrus juice, equal to about 1 cup total: orange, lemon, lime
  • 3 tablespoons finely shredded unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1/2 cup corn kernals — canned or cut fresh off the cob (optional)
  • Salt to taste
  • black pepper, to taste
You will need a non-reactive bowl — use glass or ceramics, such as Pyrex or Corning ware. Combine all ther ingredients and cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for from 2 to 24 hours. to server, spoon into small tumbers or ramekins, and garnish with cilantro, if desired. Makes 8 servings. Also good served with bread or rice, to soak up the juices — don't leave the juice behind!

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Roasted Oysters
An oyster roast appeals to men — for the bivalves are placed on a grill, and covered till they popped open. Killing the oysters with heat would release the adductor muscle and hinge membrane, eliminating the pesky shucking of the living oyster. Plus, for those with and aversion to raw oysters, the heating would cook the oyster enough, and impart a smoky flavor, especially if you're using charcoal or wood.

Akbar said he associated this preparation with massive parties — when the shucking of so many oysters might not be practical or fast enough to feed the masses. This is a slightly lazier preparation, and the oysters are not as picturesque, but they are no less delicious!
  • Heat the grill to hot, and be sure to lay the ousters on the grill rounded shell-side down
  • Have a serving platter to transfer the hot shells, and butter or table knives for the guests to loosen the flesh and adductor muscle ont he shell. You could do this for them, but the point is to eat an oyster while it is piping hot, steamy oyater, freshly popped open.
  • Recommended sauces include cocktail sauce, hot sauce, salt / pepper, grated horseradish, etc. However, try them without any adornment — they are usually delicious on their own/
  • Beware — the shells are very hot, even if the oyster is not overly cooked within. Use oven mitts or kitchen towels to handle them.
  • Be sure to slurp down the oyster liquor, or save it for oyster stew.
  • Heat the broiler, or a cast-iron pan on the stoptop.
  • Under the broiler, use a metal heatproof pan — the broiler pan which came your oven is perfect — to hold the oysters. Putting them on the broiler or other rack will help keep the oyster upright.
  • In a pinch, heat a pan to very hot, lay the oyster in the pan, and cover to roast. You can steam them by adding some water to the pan. Note the stovetop method and steaming usually yield oysters that are more cooked.
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Stuffed Baked Oysters
When one has a surplus of oysters, one can be excused for wanting some variety. Booster dropped by, knowing Akbar and Han would be deep in their umpteenth dozen. "Well?" boomed the big man, "How are they?"

"Delicious!" warbled the appreciative Admiral, "though Han here is probably looking for a variation that might not be just-oysters ... I think we've eaten 50 raw oysters each!"

Booster whistled, "And you still have room in those bellies? How about sometihng with bacon?" He asked this as he pulled out a zippered food bag of breadcrumbs from his satchel. "I have this stuffing I make for mushrooms ... should be good on oysters, don't you think?"
    Stuffing / Breading
  • 4 strips bacon, broiled in the oven, fat reserved
  • 4 slices toasted bread — stale is okay — ground or chopped into breadcrumbs
  • 1 rib celery, minced
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt, to taste
  • black pepper, to taste
Using the reserved bacon grease, saute the celery, onion, and garlic over medium to low heat, till the vegetables are sweated and soft. Add salt to help the process.

Chop or cumble the bacon, then add the bacon and the breadcrumbs to the vegetables. Salt and pepper to taste.

  • 2 dozen oysters, shucked
Place the shucked oysters on the rack of a broiler pan, cup shaped shell on the bottom. Be sure you have some oyster liquor in each oyster. Spoon a teaspon or more of the stuffing over the oyster, cover the oyster flesh completely. Bake under a hot broiler for about 5 minutes, or till the breading starts to almost blacken. Remove and serve immediately.

Allow for 3 to 6 oysters per person asn appetizer (you can feed 4 to 8 with this recipe).

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Fried Oyster in Po'Boys

As a child, Han grew up as an orphan and was trained to pick pockets for Correllian petty criminals and syndicates. He was very poor, but he never lost his perception of right and wrong, and he appreciated whtn someone did him a good deed. Like a Wookie, he didn't forget a debt that likely saved his life.

He told Akbar that some of the grocers near the ports where he plied his criminal trade would take pity on him, and give him a sandwich of scraps — usually the burnt and toasty bits skimmed from the fryer after some breaded viand was cooked in it. Occasionally, he'd get a bit of the meat or whatnot in the sandwich along with the greasy fried bits.

"Ah," exclaimed Akbar, "so you were a poor boy who got a po-boy — I always wondered why fried oyster sandwiches were called that!"
    Frying Oysters
  • flour
  • eggs, beaten will with a tablespoon of vegetable oil
  • panko breadcrumbs
  • shucked oysters, well drained
  • vegetable oil, for frying
This will go more efficiently if you set up the cooking area in a row:
1) drained oyster
2) flour
3) egg
4) breadcrumbs
5) hot frying oil — about ½ to 1 inch in depth
6) a rack over a pan, to drain the oysters

Dredge the oysters in the flour, and shake off the excess. Dip in the egg, then roll in the breadcrumbs. Put onto a plate while you coat more oysters. Let the oysters sit a few minutes to get the coating to firm up, then carefully lay them into the frying oil. Cook till browned on one side, the flip over to cook the other side. Remove from the oil immediately onto the rack, and avoid overcooking them. They will continue to cook a bit while they are on the draining rack. Repeat with the rest of the oysters.
    Assembling the Po-boys
  • Soft rolls, like bollilo or kaiser rolls
  • mayonnaise or tartar sauce
  • hot sauce and/or cocktail sauce
  • 3-4 oyster per sandwich
Heat the rolls in the oven to warm them through, but not to toast them. Split on the side to form top and bottom halves.

Slather with condiments, to taste. Use one layer of oysters. Close the sandwich, and serve immediately.

Back to the Menu: Oysters for the Admiral

Oyster Stew
Soon after hatching, young mon calamari were kept in the closed lagoons and pools to protect them from predators. Oysters grew in these shallows, and so Akbar would dive with his friends to pull oysters from the rocks in the bottom of the pools. So, his first memories involved oysters initmately.

And if Akbar fell sick, this dish was the one that comforted him. Despite its moniker, it is not a stew in the sense that a stew is usually a long-cooked thick soup. This concoction is made with oysters, their liquor, butter, cream ... and that's about it, and cooked in mere minutes. Served hot and comforting, it would be eaten in less time that it needed to cook — a matter of seconds, no matter how ill the young Akbar had felt!
  • 2 dozen oysters, shucked, liquor reserved
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 quart milk or half-n-half, warmed for aminute in the microwave
  • salt, to taste
  • black pepper, to taste
  • dry sherry, to taste
Heat a pot and melt the butter, letting it foam up and subside. Add the drained oysters and cook, until the gills "curl" a bit. Add the warmed milk and reserved oyster liquor and heat till simmering — do not boil, or the oysters will overcook and the milk will split. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Spoon 3 to 4 oysters per serving into heated bowls. Ladel the liquid over the oysters. Serve with sherry at the table as a condiment, if desired. Serves 6 to 8 as a first course.

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