Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24: Save the Gulf Dinner - Lessons on Impact, Oyster Shucking and More


I was thrilled when Foodbuzz announced July's 24x24 Gulf Ambassador Event, bringing 24 bloggers around the world to host a food event over a 24 hour period and to blog about it. This month, Foodbuzz had a special request, asking bloggers to host a "Gulf inspired" event, one that would highlight the impact of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. In lieu of the $250 stipend typically given to participants, Foodbuzz will donate that amount - a total of $6,000 to benefit the struggling Gulf Coast fishery community via Greater New Orleans Foundation (GNOF).


It has been more than three months since the Deep Horizon oil rig explosion, and some of you may be wondering the toll of this enduring oil spill. There are no exact numbers, but here are a few figures to assemble a picture of the ramifications.

Here are a few statistics:
  • 4.9 million barrels of oil is estimated to have spilled into the ocean (source)
  • 35,000 -  60,000 barrels (about 1.5 - 2.5 million gallons) of oil gush into the ocean daily (source)
  • Approximately 630 miles of Gulf Coast shoreline has been contaminated by the BP oil spill (source): 
    • 89 miles in Florida
    • 364 miles in Louisiana
    • 107 miles in Mississippi 
    • and 70 miles in Alabama
  • Roughly 1.84 million gallons (7 million liters) of dispersant have been applied (source): 
    • 1.07 million on the surface and 
    • 771,000 subsea
  • 17,000 jobs estimated to be lost by year-end because of the oil spill (source)
    • At risk is the livelihood of family businesses that took generations to build.
  • $1,200,000,000 projected to be lost by year-end due to the oil spill (source)
  • 400 species estimated to be at risk, from the base of the chain with oil-eating bacteria, shrimp, crab to endangered sea turtles, brown pelicans and whales. (source)
No one can predict the long-term impact of such high levels of oil and toxins released into the ocean, however it is becoming more and more evident that the damage from the oil spill will span beyond the food chain and through the entire lifecycle of the Gulf's eco-system.




"A major environmental experiment is underway," 
Ron Kendall
Director of the Institute of Environmental and Human Health
Texas Tech University (source)


By most means, what we eat - whether it is seafood or not - will be impacted by this oil spill. From the inability of the business man from Minnesota who grinds oyster shells for chicken-feed supplement to the higher price of shrimp and other commonly sourced seafood from the Gulf, we all need to prepare for significant change.


Getting Used to A New Normal - Substitution When There Really Isn't Any
When we initially planned for our Gulf inspired dinner, three ingredients that instantly popped into my head were: oysters, Gulf shrimp, and crawfish. This thought was quickly followed by a realization that I would have to prepare for substitutions. For example, crawfish unfortunately did not make it onto the menu as it was unavailable fresh or even frozen, which is abnormal. We replaced crawfish with locally caught lobster, which we picked up from  The Lobster Place, our favorite seafood source in New York. Since then, I found out that shrimp is also considered a good substitute whenever a recipe calls for crawfish, but you'll be hard pressed to find Gulf Shrimp to use. Also, this pushes up demand for other types of seafood, which will likely cause prices to follow suit.


Gulf shrimp has been unavailable for a few weeks as the supply of frozen Gulf shrimp has been exhausted at most retailers. In my freezer is a coveted supply wild Gulf shrimp that was used to create a Louisiana-inspired smoky shrimp, sausage and rice dish. I wrote about the pronounced fresh briny sea salt flavors and sweet plump flesh of Louisiana shrimp earlier this year. Gulf shrimp continues to be my favorite variety, the flavors truly set the standard. I will lament the day when I get used to eating bland farmed shrimp.


Oyster Shucking Lesson

The first portion of our Gulf inspired dinner was a lesson on how to shuck oysters. 


I took a few pointers from the shuckers at Hog Island Oysters, and outline the steps below, but there seems to be no sure learn except to practice and be very careful doing so.


First, be sure to have a good oyster knife, one that has a thick handle for gripping. This one was purchased from Williams Sonoma. Also, while we did not use a glove, we would highly recommend using either an oven mitt or towel to hold onto the oyster, which has sharp ridges that can slice fingers.

Pry, wiggle and pop
  1. Place the oyster on the cutting board flat side up
  2. Insert the knife at the dark, rounded tip of the oyster's hinge 
  3. Pry the oyster at the hinge, wiggling the knife right to right to left a bit 
  4. Once you feel the knife is firmly in the oyster hinge, twist the knife firmly but gently until the the hinge breaks
  5. Lift the shell away and discard - or compost - these shells are rich in minerals 
  6. Carefully cut the flesh from the muscle underneath the bottom of the oyster shell and remove any shell particles

Here's how I did it, and I would NOT recommend to you do it this way. I shucked the oyster with my bare hands, prying at the hinge, and then popping the shell. 


While I got away with this one, you can imagine how dangerous a combination of slippery sharp ridged oysters and a pointy forceful knife can get.  So again, we recommend using a good oven mitt to shuck oysters. 


Following the oyster shucking lesson, we sat down to a Calamari, lobster, shrimp and bean salad, which was refreshing and delightful treat with medley of textures, herbal green notes and wonderful summer seafood flavors. 


Seafood and Bean Salad
Ingredients
  • 3/4 lb fresh calamari, cleaned
  • 1/2 lb of crawfish, lobster and / or shrimp, cooked
  • 2 cups white beans, cooked and drained, I used Yellow Indian Woman from Rancho Gordo, but Northern White would work very well
  • 1/2 cup shredded red cabbage
  • 1/2 cup parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 1/3 cup good olive oil
  • Juice from one large lemon, I used a Meyer lemon from Sherry's prolific lemon tree
  • sea salt and pepper, to taste, I used Himalayan pink salt, which I have found to work best with seafood
Method
  1. For the calamari, rinse in salt water. On a cutting board, take the tubes and slice thinly into rings. Once done, place the sliced calamari and tentacles into a medium (2 QT) sauce pan and add enough cold water to submerge well. Season the water generously with salt, and heat the stove to medium.  Allow the cold water to gently rise in temperature, and the calamari to cook slowly, to ensure that the flesh remains tender. This should take between 20-30 minutes. If the calamari appears to be cooking too, then turn down the heat a notch, and proceed. Pull a ring out after 15-20 minutes to check on doneness. Once done, drain water completely, and add the calamari to a large salad bowl.
  2. In the meantime, slice the crawfish, lobster and or shrimp into 1-inch chunks, and place in a large salad bowl. Add the beans, cabbage, parsley and olive oil. Squeeze fresh lemon juice, toss, and salt and pepper, to taste. 
This salad can be prepared a day ahead of time. 


Of course, a Gulf inspired dinner would not be complete without some Creole flavors at the table. I recreated a smoky shrimp and wine basted Andouille sausage dish with red bell pepper rice as a tribute to region. This recipe was originally featured in May, and the recipe can be found here.



How was it you might ask? It's a sensational dish that combines plump and succulent shrimp with meaty well-seasoned sausages and smoky sweet and savory red bell pepper rice, which is complemented with a touch of spice and united with toasted nutty and buttery nuances. While it is not an authentic Louisiana recipe, it inspires many of the exciting Creole flavors of jambalaya.


While this dinner is an event meant to bring awareness to the catastrophe in the Gulf, the subject matter of sustainability ties in very closely.  Before I close this post, I wanted to share with you a message on making the right choices from one of my favorite seafood restaurants in the world, Fish, an establishment in my former home of Sausalito, California.



We hope you have enjoyed our Gulf-inspired dinner as much as we did. The Gulf and its people have a long journey ahead of them before they return to their pre-Deep Horizon explosion life. We all can help. If you are interested, please visit Greater New Orleans Foundation (GNOF).

74 comments:

Belinda @zomppa said...

Those oysters look amazing. It's so terrible, it's been how many days and just think about how many more years this oil spill will impact people, animals, and nature. Thanks for helping us me more aware.

Belinda @zomppa said...

Those oysters look amazing. It's so terrible, it's been how many days and just think about how many more years this oil spill will impact people, animals, and nature. Thanks for helping us me more aware.

Mari said...

Wonderful post, very informing. Thanks for sharing. Like always the recipes looks great, I love the salad, looks deliciois.

Have a great and blessed Sunday and week.

Sweet and Savory said...

Thank you for this meaningful post. Sometimes, it is hard to understand some of the ramifications and you helped clarify.

I hope a lot of people read your post.

lostpastremembered said...

Christine: a really great post. We need to be reminded
(as we Americans have short term memories) of the damage the has been done... damage we may not know the extent of even now. We can hope for the best but a whole generation of seafood may be lost thanks to our negligence and greed. A generation of men and women have lost their livelihood and their heritage causing incalculable damage, pain and suffering. It breaks my heart. Great recipes... you can tell your heart was in it... and do take care with oyster knives.. I hurt my hand getting overly confident once... ouch!

OysterCulture said...

Great post and great cause. I love doing anything we can to help out those suffering from this tragedy and what a great reminder that the person does not have to bel living close by to be impacted but up in Minnesota and his livelihood is suddenly under threat.

That cajun inspired dish, straight from the Gulf sounds just divine. Can't wait to try it, right after I head to Hog Island for my oyster shucking class =)

Megan said...

Great post, Christine! I had a feeling you would participate this month. The oil spil is so unfortunate and the repercussions have been so heartbreaking. I really appreciate all of the information you provided and the numbers you highlighted.

Your seafood salad looks so bright and summery, and I absolutely love oysters though I doubt I'm brave enough to shuck them even with gloves on!

SavoringTime in the Kitchen said...

Wonderfully informative and heart-felt post. My favorite purveyor of shrimp flies to our area from Galveston, Texas once a month and I do so hope he can stay in business.

What a truly delectable dish!

Thank you for the shucking lesson ;)

Ravenous Couple said...

great job bring on this 24x24!

high low said...

Having loved visiting New Orleans and enjoying the Gulf seafood there, I've been heartbroken about the Gulf spill. Great job on your 24,24,24 dinner - it'll bring a lot of awareness on this issue.

Joanne said...

The oil spill makes me frustrated on a daily basis! I think the way the government and all involved are reacting (or NOT reacting as the case may be) is so frustrating.

I love that you learned to shuck oysters though. If I'm ever going to be a finalist on top chef, it's really something that I need to learn to do. The salad looks hypnotizing!

♥peachkins♥ said...

I love oysters, those looks like the freshest oysters!

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

The statistics are sobering. Thanks for sharing a delicious and thought-provoking menu.

Tiny Urban Kitchen said...

Thanks for the wonderful post and congrats on 24, 24! I have just begun to think more about sustainability. It's hard to keep track of everything but I guess awareness is a start! You are so brave to shuck the oysters with your bare hands! I've never shucked oysters before. :)

Lovely photos!

Debinhawaii said...

What an amazing and informative post that truly reinforces the importance of sustainability. The meal looks incredible too from the oysters to the salad, to the shrimp and sausage dish. Beautiful job!

bellini valli said...

Thanks for your support for this tradegy. I know that Foodbuzz will be making so very generous contributions.

Cathy said...

It's painful to read that list of statistics about the oil spill and the horrible damage that carelessness can cause.

Lovely post, and wonderful photos.

Yasmeen said...

Excellent job ! a very informative post on the oil spill.I really needed a lesson in cooking with oysters,don't usually cook beyond the simple seafood.

El said...

Beautiful post. Thanks for the stats. The press is so focused on sensationalism it's hard to discern what's going on. Any idea how many people have been deployed to stop this? Great lessons in oysters too!

Angie's Recipes said...

These oysters look so fresh and that smokey jumbo prawn rice dish is simply delish!

Asha @ FSK said...

Great post as always Christine!! Oysters shucking scares me.. you makes it sounds simple enough. I want a lesson!

Bridgett said...

Those statistics are staggering! I am loving your creole dish and also the seafood bean salad. Very creative.

Sara said...

This oil spill absolutely breaks my heart. It's painful to even think about. I cannot even begin to fathom the impact this is going to have on everyone and the way we all eat. Not to mention that I will absolutely die without Gulf oysters! Thanks for pointing out how important it is to eat sustainable seafood. We all have to do our part!

Juliana said...

Christine...thanks for the post, although sad it is very informative and everyone should be aware of it.

bunkycooks said...

This was a great post. The oil spill is such a tragedy and unfortunately, we will experience the repercussions for years to come.

Chef E said...

I am bothered by all of this too- Is that coddle fish in the first photo, I love it!

Thanks for this post!

The Blonde Duck said...

They have a big oyster fest here in SA every year!

The Blonde Duck said...

They have a big oyster fest here in SA every year!

The Blonde Duck said...

They have a big oyster fest here in SA every year!

Claudia said...

Truly a gorgeous and empathetic posting, Christine. The food is astounding and the lack of fresh fish from the Gulf is a travesty. For some reason, we still get fresh shrimp from Fabian shrimp on the Gulf who so far have not been affected by the spill. (So far)

Cristie said...

Such an incredible sad event for our world. Thanks for the wonderful post. We had a small oil spill in my community, small compaired to this, but large for my world and it has completely changed my view of what has happened to the Gulf. Thanks for the post- to see it layed out in black and white is just overwhelming.

sweetlife said...

great post, the dmage to our waters is truly sad and this really sadnees me, we love our local gulf shrimp and my hometown in Aransas Pass, Texas. many people shrimp for a living, I hope many lessons are learned and we all learn for past mistake.
sweetlife

elra said...

Delicious dish, gorgeous and breathtaking photo.

theUngourmet said...

Wonderful post. Thank you for posting the facts and information on the spill. So very sad. Your photos are incredible as well. I don't care for oysters but the shucking sure looks like fun! ;)

Chow and Chatter said...

oh you did great lovely and informative post as ever

Ken Albala said...

This is all so scary. Even apart from the oysters, and the people who make a living fishing, but the whole Guf will be screwed for years. And why doesn't anyone point to the real problem? Our dependence on oil. COme on, the technology is over 100 years old and we haven't progressed an inch.

Your dish looks gorgeous though!

Selba said...

Whoaaa.. the oyster looks so delicious!

Interesting to learn about the statistics.

From the Kitchen said...

Thanks so much or this post and for your participation in the event. The information continues to be distressing!! Every time I see a lovely display of seafood, I wonder how long before we are only able to enjoy it on rare occasions and thinking about all the lives so drastically affected.

The dish looks amazing--a delicious way to enjoy the bounty of the sea.

Best,
Bonnie

Emily said...

What a fantastic dinner for a great cause. Your photos are absolutely beautiful, too!

Cocina Savant said...

Well done on the Gulf dinner. I went home to Pensacola Beach a couple weeks ago and the oil has not affected the beach there very bad but the tourism is little to none which is a serious shame for the local economy. There is no telling how long this horrific incident will affect the gulf, the fishermen, the restaurants, and many other businesses that rely on clean water.

nancy at good food matters said...

Beautiful recipes, but I most appreciate your emphasis on how interconnected we all are---and how affected we all will be, as this Gulf tragedy unfolds. The stats you provide defy the imagination.

Great words to follow from FISH. We can all make the right choices.

marla@familyfreshcooking.com said...

This post is gorgeous! Your seafood & bean salad looks fantastic. Thanks for sharing the scary reality of the oil spill with us, we all need to take action and be aware of this tragedy.

Chubby Chinese Girl said...

Great post!!!!! eating great food for a good cause, what else can a food blogger ask for =)

Stella said...

Hi Christine, those statistics are crazy and very scary. It just seems that people (individuals, businesses, governments) should do better towards our environment. I just don't understand how this is all allowed to go on...
On a brighter note, your food looks delicious, and it's so nice to hear that FoodBuzz is helping the Gulf region a bit-that's wonderful!

lisa is cooking said...

This meal sounds fantastic! Your seafood and bean salad looks amazing. I want that for dinner tonight!

Foodessa said...

Christine...it's said that there's always a huge message in tragedies like this one. As we see and hear about it on the news...nothing could ever come close to truly understanding what those unfortunate people and animals are going through.
This was a nice event that was organized by the selected bloggers.

Thank you for bringing more of this info to the forefront.

Claudia

baking.serendipity said...

What a great post. The facts you've included are absolutely startling, but the food looks fantastic. Thanks for sharing :)

Carolyn Jung said...

Every day, when I read the stories in the paper about the impact of the spill, my heart just breaks. What's even sadder is that the effects will go on for years to come. Sigh. Let's hope that the one upside is that it makes us all appreciate our natural resources more.

Katherine Aucoin said...

Beautiful dish!

Went went home to visit for the 4th of July and because of the media, most people worldwide don't realize that this spill has not only affected the fishing community, many of whom have fished for generations but also the many entities frequented by the fisherman. No matter what you're hearing on the news, the money is not getting to any these people and they are in dire straits. What a shame!

Margot said...

Christine - what an absolutely beautiful job you did with this!

I love the oyster shucking lesson, alas, I am still too wary to do it on my own, leaving it to the pros! Or perhaps I'll convince you to show me in person one day.

The salad is just so colorful and mouth-watering.

You definitely have an eye for beauty.

Diana Bauman said...

Christine, beautifully written. You've made it very clear the catastrophe that has occurred and the effects we all will endure. A lovely post with beautiful recipes. I am going to be making your calamari and bean salad. It looks so refreshing.

sophia said...

I knew you'd be participating! I'm so glad you did, because if anyone can marry together a tragedy and good food, and write with eloquence and grace, it's you. thank you, Christine.

Butterpoweredbike said...

Thank you so much for sharing this post with Two for Tuesday, and helping to spread the word about the continued plight of the Gulf communities. I try to remember every time I start my car that I played a roll in this mess.

Michelle said...

I lived in Tampa for a while and know what a hard life the local fisherman did, day in and day out. It broke my heart to see our gorgeous Gulf so polluted and I'm sure we don't know the half of it.

Thanks for the oyster lesson but I leave the shucking up to Mr. Tastebuds!

Barbara said...

Wonderful post, Christine! Very important for everyone to read! Good for Foodbuzz for doing what they can. We should all follow suit.

Lori said...

Thanks for this very informative post. Those are some beautiful Gulf-inspired dishes!

girlichef said...

Gorgeous post, Christine! The plump, healthy seafood looks amazing in that dish and I love your oyster shucking lesson. Although I cannot believe you did it without a towel...I've stabbed myself through the towel many times...and that hurts, LOL!! Thanks for sharing this with us and supporting such an amazing cause =)

kat said...

Oh shucking oysters just scares me!

Tasty Eats At Home said...

Great, great post. And I love that seafood and bean salad! Texas has some coastal damage from the oil spill too, though not nearly the amount that other states have endured. We still have a bit of gulf seafood, but of course, it's hard to come by and it's rapidly becoming expensive! You make me a bit more comfortable with oysters though - I've never prepared them!

Tasty Eats At Home said...

Great, great post. And I love that seafood and bean salad! Texas has some coastal damage from the oil spill too, though not nearly the amount that other states have endured. We still have a bit of gulf seafood, but of course, it's hard to come by and it's rapidly becoming expensive! You make me a bit more comfortable with oysters though - I've never prepared them!

Gypsy Girl Gourmet said...

Looks delish! Thanks for your comments over on my blog! I'll have to try your tip on the stem vs starting from seed!!! Thanks!

Gera @ Sweets Foods Blog said...

How terrible this eco-disaster.

The oysters look really amazing and the salad so yummy :)

Cheers,

Gera

alwayswinner786 said...

Amazing post!
Those oysters and prawns looks excellent,Scrumptious dishes! Love it.

Kitchen M said...

What a great post, Christine! It's very well written.
It was certainly not just a drop in the ocean. And you are right, it's affecting beyond just the sea creatures and people in Gulf. I am sad and frustrated listening to the news everyday, but I hope that they never stop talking about this.

the clark clan said...

Hi Christine and welcoem to the two for tuesday recipe blog hop! I did not see a link back to the blog hop, so could you please put in a link so others can share in the fun and see your amazing recipe and information on sustainable food related to the gulf oil spill. As an Islander up here in new york, many a meal was made from local sea fare and with the vagaries of pollution, red tide, even water oxygenation would make the sea food legal or illegal to harvest. This oil spill will effect the balance for a long time and it is important for folks to hear information such as yours. Thanks again for sharing and I grabbed your RSS feed and am following. Alex@amoderatelife

Sook said...

It's good to see you're involved with foodbuzz! The dish looks so pretty!

velva said...

Living in the panhandle of Florida it has been up close and personal. The shores of the gulf have been polluted and the many lives of its residents devastated.

Awesome post Christine! Beautiful dish.

Magic of Spice said...

Wonderful post, and these dishes are delightful...The gulf issues with oil spills just break my heart, such devastation.

John Dryzga said...

I am all about dining for a cause. Great post.

Mimi said...

Great post, for a great cause. The damage in the gulf coast will take decades to mitigate. Each day we do something positive for the gulf region is a step in the right direction.Thanks for your step.
Mimi

Joy said...

What a beautiful post Christine, big kudos to supporting a great cause. It is sad how poorly we choose to treat our environment, and now it has landed us in a terrible situation. Hopefully with time and help and with modern technology, somehow we can reverse the majority of the adverse effects caused by the spill. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful meal and post with us -- I love oysters!

otehlia cassidy said...

Thanks for such a beautiful and informative post. I hope the gulf area and all its inhabitants are able to heal and recover.

A. Rizzi said...

great post. that shot of the lobster salad is amazing as well.

The Cheap Gourmet said...

Thank you for such an informative article and delicious recipes. You have turned a bad situation into a positive experience. I look forward to trying your recipes. Thanks for sharing!