Coast Cooking

Coast Cooking: Try oysters in a duck gumbo


Special to the Sun Herald

Oysters don’t have to be center stage to be good. They are great eaten raw, Rockefeller or roasted and stuffed in almost any fashion you like.

Simply placing them over a hot fire and adding just a drop of butter and lemon juice when they open is pretty grand, but oysters go well with lots of other ingredients as well.

One of my favorites is to use them in a gumbo. They do well when added to a shrimp and crab gumbo, but they are particularly good when used with a duck gumbo. The duck is rich, and the oysters delicate. Here are a few things to watch.

Roast the duck, but do not cook it all the way through. Debone it and use the carcass to make the stock. Never simmer a gumbo with duck, or any other kind of meat, for more than 45 minutes or so.

Make sure you use the oyster liquor in the gumbo. It would be tragic to waist it. It adds depth of flavor and a hint of the salty sea that is marvelous. Most importantly, add the fresh oysters no more than 3-4 minutes before the gumbo is done. Nothing is as distasteful as an overcooked oyster. A perfectly cooked oyster should be tender, hardly more than warmed through. The longer you cook them the harder they become. The worst case scenario is that you have little dried up bits of oyster jerky floating in your pot of gumbo. Heaven forbid.