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You Asked For It: Oyster Bar Junk

I enjoy the oyster bar junk at Salty Rim Grill in St. Pete Beach. I had it served on a steak and it contains shrimp, scallops, whitefish and golden fried oysters. Does anyone have a recipe? Thank you.

Leslie Schultz, Seminole

Petra Bauer of Largo is familiar with Salty Rim Grill and the dish offered on the menu there. Petra created this sauce and shares her version of the recipe, which sounds very much like what Leslie described. I don't cook a lot of seafood at home, beyond shrimp scampi, and found this recipe surprisingly easy. Don't be intimidated by the many steps. I found everything I needed, including oysters in the shell, at Pelican Point Seafood in Tarpon Springs. For the whitefish, I chose tilapia, but any whitefish is fine. I did have to shuck the oysters, but if you've never done it before either ask the fishmonger to do it for you or buy already shucked oysters. The panko bread crumbs give the oysters a nice crunch. If that's not a texture you like, plain bread crumbs will work too. For the Cajun seasoning in the junk part of the recipe, I made my own since I had all the ingredients. Add the hot sauce to taste. When I served the concoction, I flaked the fish into smaller pieces. Petra didn't say to do this but it seemed odd to serve a fillet with all the other seafood. I served the seafood mixture with a crusty baguette but Petra suggests spooning it over pasta as well. Leslie enjoyed it on a steak. A new take on surf and turf.

Recipes tested by Times correspondent Ellen Folkman unless otherwise noted. Send requests to You Asked For It, P.O. Box 1159, Crystal Beach, FL 34681 or email youaskedforit@tampabay.rr.com. Include your name, city and phone number.

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Oyster Bar Junk

This versatile dish can served over pasta or with baguette slices. For a new take on surf and turf, offer it spooned over grilled steak.

For the junk:

1 pound medium shrimp, peeled, deveined and cleaned

1 pound bay scallops, shelled and cleaned (if using sea scallops, cut in half)

1 pound whitefish, de-boned, skinned and cleaned

Salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

2 ½ tablespoons cornstarch or 1 teaspoon agar powder

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

2 cloves of garlic, minced

¼ cup seafood, vegetable or chicken stock

1 pint heavy cream

2 to 3 tablespoons Cajun spice blend (ingredients below) or Tony Chachere's Creole seasoning

1 tablespoon hot sauce, such as Tabasco

1 pound lump crabmeat

Scallions and parsley finely chopped, for garnish

For the fried oysters:

1 ½ cups canola oil

½ cup all-purpose flour

1 large egg

3 tablespoons hot sauce such as Tabasco

1 cup panko Japanese bread crumbs

12 freshly shucked gulf oysters

Kosher salt

For the Cajun seasoning mix:

1 tablespoon salt

1 tablespoon red pepper

1 tablespoon onion powder

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

To make "the junk," coat shrimp, scallops and whitefish with salt, pepper and cornstarch. Shake off excess.

Melt olive oil and butter in a heavy-bottom saute pan. Fry seafood in a single layer (do not crowd) until cooked and golden. You may need to do this in batches. Remove from pan. Add garlic and cook until translucent but not burned. Add stock and deglaze pan with it. Let it reduce by half. Add cream, Cajun spices and hot sauce to taste. Add crabmeat the last 5 minutes of cooking (don't overcook). Add remaining seafood back into the pan and mix gently heating through. Transfer to serving bowl and top with scallions and minced parsley before serving.

While you're cooking "the junk," start frying oysters. Heat canola oil in a heavy-bottom pot to 325 degrees.

In one bowl, add the flour. In a second bowl, add the egg and hot sauce. In a third bowl, add the bread crumbs. Dredge oysters in flour, shaking off excess, dip in egg mixture and finish in bread crumbs. Make sure each oyster is coated and drop slowly into hot oil. Fry 1 to 2 minutes until golden. Remove with a slotted spoon or tongs.

Drain on paper towel and sprinkle on kosher salt while hot. Serve fried oysters on top of cooked seafood mixture.

To make seasoning, combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix until well blended. Store tightly covered.

Serves at least 6 as part of a main dish or 12 as an appetizer or party hors d'oeuvre.

Source: Petra Bauer, Largo

You Asked For It: Oyster Bar Junk 10/09/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 9, 2012 5:30am]

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