Photo: Serious Eats

Recipe: Tomato Oyster Stew

“There are three kinds of oyster-eaters,” muses M.F.K. Fisher in Consider the Oyster, “those loose-minded sports who will eat anything, hot, cold, thin, thick, dead or alive, as long as it is oyster; those who will eat them raw and only raw; and those who with equal severity will eat them cooked and no way other.”

I tend to fall into the camp of staunch raw-only eaters, but I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t enjoy a good fried oyster sandwich or a creamy oyster soup now and then. To that end, I was excited to see this tomato-based oyster stew. With fish stock and diced tomatoes as its foundation, this stew harks back to Manhattan-style chowder, a departure from the usual butter and cream heavy oyster stews.

This recipe calls for 24 shucked oysters, which can be a tedious amount of preparation for a stew, but will give you optimal results in terms of flavor. Alternatively, you can use preshucked oysters or cajole your friendly neighborhood fishmonger/spouse into helping you shuck.

The key here is to not overcook the oysters. If you drop them in as soon as you turn off the heat, they’ll be just done, with slightly curled edges.

Tomato Oyster Stew

Adapted from Serious Eats
Serves 4

Olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 rib celery, finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, sliced
1 bay leaf
1 small bunch thyme
1/2 bunch parsley
32 ounce fish stock
28 ounce can diced tomatoes
24 oysters, shucked
kosher salt and cracked black pepper
lemon slices, optional

Heat a good drizzle of oil in a large pot. When shimmering, add onions, carrot, celery and garlic and cook until wilted. Add bay leaf, thyme, parsley, fish stock, and canned tomatoes and bring to a simmer; cook for about 15 minutes until vegetables are soft. Turn off heat and add oysters and oyster liquor. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve immediately.