People either love or hate oysters, I don’t know if I’ve ever met someone who was indifferent about them; there is just something so delightful about enjoying these briny little morsels of sweet tender flesh right out of their shells in their own natural broth. I never pass up a chance to have them, and although there are oyster bars in Chicago, my favorite place to enjoy them is up on Old Mission Peninsula north of Traverse City, Michigan where Executive Chef James Morse of The Boathouse serves up some of the tastiest oysters in the Midwest.
On my last visit which was admittedly several months back, Chef Morse offered a tasting of some of his specialties; one which really stood out was the deep bay oysters on the half shell, which are topped with a finely diced ahi tartare, wasabi-avocado mousse, yuzu oyster glaze, jalapeno, and toasted sesame seeds, served on a bed of sea salt.
After admiring the stellar presentation, I tasted one and was instantly in heaven. Combining the delicate briny oyster with tender ahi, rich avocado, and the sharp sweet/salty tang of yuzu oyster sauce followed by a hint of heat and fresh green flavor of jalapeno is a brilliant way to enhance their flavor with an array of textures and bright flavors. I loved the dish so much I wanted to share it with my readers, and I’m happy to say that Chef Morse has shared his recipe with me so that I could pass it along to all of you!
When I recreated this dish in my kitchen, I followed Chef Morse’s notes carefully, including serving it with a chilled glass of Blanc de Blanc sparkling wine from L. Mawby. The crispness of chardonnay grapes shine through in this, their most delicate and traditional methode champenois wine.
Oysters & Tartare
recipe by Boathouse Executive Chef James Morse in Traverse City, Michigan
6 oysters serving
3 of each oysters (I used Olde Salt and Sandaka oysters (Atlantic) from Whole Foods (reasonably priced too!))
1 fresh yellow-fin tuna steak (Choose whichever size you’d like. Considering this is one of our favorite dishes from the Boathouse we bought twelve oysters and used our medium steak up)
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
1 teaspoon mirin (found in your Asian food section of your local grocery store) SEE NOTES BELOW
1 sheet of nori (found in your Asian food section of your local grocery store)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 jalapeno, de-seeded and minced
1 teaspoon of wasabi avocado mousse (you can always add more to your liking)
1 teaspoon of oyster glaze
Wasabi Avocado Mousse
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 tablespoons wasabi
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Combine all ingredients in food processor and blend until smooth, scraping bowl well. Store in plastic pastry bag until ready for use. Use rubber band to seal pastry bag and prevent oxidation.
3 cups Oyster Sauce
1 cup Hoisin Sauce
1 cup May Ploy Chili Sauce
1/2 cup Yuzu Juice
1/2 cup Tamari Soy Sauce
Combine all ingredients in large mixing bowl.
First, if you’re making the homemade mirin and yuzu do this first and set aside. Next make the homemade wasabi mousse by adding all ingredients to the processor and blend until smooth. Prepare the oyster glaze, set aside. Toast the sesame seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat for 3-5 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Shave the radishes into thin rounds and slice them in vertical strips. You can either do this by using a mandolin or if you have good knife skills you can do this way as well. Take a sheet of the nori and break off small pieces and set aside.
Dice the tuna and before seasoning it you must shuck the oysters. Shucking oysters can be a bit challenging but rewarding. Please see my previous post here on how to shuck oysters. Season the tuna tartar with a dash of salt, yuzu juice, and mirin. After shucking the oysters top with a dollop of wasabi mousse, pile on the tuna tartar, then a dab of oyster glaze. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds, minced jalapeno, shaved radishes and nori. Serve immediately.
If yuzu is added too soon to the tuna it will begin to cure and have an unappetizing color.
Mirin – Mirin is a sweet rice wine vinegar. If you are unable to find this ingredient in your grocery store you can substitute by taking 1/2 teaspoon sugar per tablespoon rice wine vinegar (which you can find at your supermarket).
Wanna get creative? You can easily make your own
1/2 cup serving
4 tablespoons sugar, I tend to use organic cane sugar (which you can find at a great price at your local grocery stores)
1 cup sake (any sake will do but I used Gekkeikan Sake)
1 teaspoons pure cane syrup
Combine the ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Stir ingredients to make sure they are dissolved. Remove from the heat and set aside to cook. Taste and add can syrup if you’d like it sweeter.
Yuzu Juice – Yuzu is a Japanesse citrus fruit. It’s often referred to as a sour mandarin and looks like a small grapefruit. If you have a hard time finding yuzu juice you can simply substitute it with 3 tablespoons of lime juice with 3 tablespoons of mandarin orange juice. See, not so intimidating!