MY GRANDPAIR JOHN COOK passed away this fall. I will remember him for so many things, mainly his love of food. Now I’m not saying it tasted great or had an exceptional palate (once we did a chocolate bar blind tasting test, and he wasn’t moved by his decision that Hershey’s was the best), but he had an unmatched enthusiasm for food and the way people bonded.
He loved seafood of all kinds – from smoked salmon to faux crab – but he especially loved oysters. The only dish I remember him making was his annual Christmas oyster stew. After our grandfather was diagnosed with macular degeneration, which practically took cooking off the table, my brother Tyler called him for the recipe, saying he wanted to make Grandpa John his stew. of oysters as a gift for Christmas.
The recipe was a pot of oysters, sautÃ©ed in butter and topped with whole milk and a little black pepper, simmered until cooked. That’s it. No onion or garlic. No celery or carrot. Not even a potato! We still laugh about it, this famous âstewâ with four ingredients, built in our heads like this surprisingly complicated dish that is full of flavors.
Tyler says he concocted a âfancyâ version, but Grandpa John preferred his simple version.
Victor Steinbrueck, owner of the local Tide in Fremont that specializes in seafood, laughs when I tell him the story of Grandpa John’s oyster stew. He tells me his own story when he learns that his father’s pork chop recipe, which he loved as a child, was just pork chops with a can of Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup poured over it. top and baked. âIt’s the nostalgia factor,â he says of what makes it important.
Local Tide is known for its straightforward menu featuring Pacific Northwest seafood dishes with thoughtful layers of flavor: slowly poached teriyaki salmon served with red rice and coleslaw with sesame dressing, Refrigerated Penn Cove mussels marinated in a ginger and scallion sauce, a hand-cracked Dungeness crab roll topped with Steinbrueck’s house mayonnaise.
Steinbrueck is the namesake and grandson of the late Victor Steinbrueck, an architect best known for leading the charge to save the Pike Place market 50 years ago. Sadly, the elder Steinbrueck died before his grandson was born, but the younger Steinbrueck found a connection to his grandfather through the market.
âWhen I was born, my family bought a store at Pike Place Market. It was their first business, and that’s what helped them raise the family, âhe says.
As a child, he went to the Market daycare and his first pop-ups took place at the Atrium Kitchen. The market has always been Steinbrueck’s home; that’s what drove him to seafood in the first place, and now he says having his restaurant is a âdream come true,â one that would have been different without the market.
Although he loves oysters in all their forms, Steinbrueck has never eaten oyster stew, but he gets my grandfather’s appeal and love from it.
âI can get behind the oyster stew. What not to like? ” he says.
This year for Christmas, in honor of Grandpa John, I could whisk oysters with milk and cracked black pepper, but I also asked Steinbrueck to create something a little tastier.
“What I like most about this idea is that it sounds like such a nostalgic dish: a dish that, if you had it growing up, you probably have a soft spot for it and, in contrast, , if you’ve never had it before, you’d probably think a little longer about whether that makes sense or not, âhe says.
His version adds oysters at the last moment, dipping them in a fish sauce and sake-tinged broth with garlic, celery, bacon, potatoes and a stick of butter. Served with a good baguette and garnished with fresh parsley, this is truly a stew worthy of the holidays.
4 ounces good quality thick-sliced ââbacon (diced)
3 stalks of celery (diced)
1 medium yellow onion (diced)
5 garlic cloves (minced)
3 medium Yukon Gold potatoes (diced)
1 cup of dry sake or white wine
1 pint of whole milk
1 pint of heavy cream
1.5 liters of fish stock
1 jar (32 ounces) medium Pacific oysters (reserve liquid from jar)
2 tablespoons of soy sauce or tamari
2 tablespoons of fish sauce
1 stick of butter
4 ounces of flour
Flat leaf parsley (chopped)
Thick sourdough (roasted)
1. Place the bacon in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat and let it begin to cook.
2. Once the bacon starts to fat, brown and smell good, start adding celery and diced onions. Let them sweat and season with salt and black pepper to taste.
3. Add the minced garlic and the potatoes, and cook for a few minutes, favoring the smell of things.
4. Pour in the sake or white wine and reduce by half.
5. Pour in the whole milk, heavy cream, fish stock, oyster liquid, soy sauce or tamari and fish sauce. Leave to simmer. During this time â¦
6. In a separate saucepan or small saucepan, melt the butter stick over medium-low heat.
7. Once the butter has melted, start incorporating the flour into the melted butter to make a roux. Once fully incorporated, continue to stir until the roux begins to take on a slightly darker shade.
8. Now that the stew is simmering and the roux is done, using a whisk, start slowly adding the roux to the stew, being careful to whisk the roux so that it doesn’t form lumps. The stew will start to thicken.
9. Taste and season with salt and pepper to taste.
ten. At this point, add the oysters and cook very quickly at low broth. The oysters should become plump and the edges should curl. Remove from the heat and serve. Garnish with chopped parsley, lemon and toasted sourdough.
– by Victor Steinbrueck, local tide