Friday I found the latest edition of New Orleans Magazine in my mail box. The cover was graced with a beautiful soft shell crab. I drooled. Then I immediately picked up the phone and called Stacey's cousin - Matt - executive chef at Valenza. This was Friday about Noon.
By Four, Matt had called back and said he had 36 soft shells coming Saturday afternoon. Sunday about 11 a.m. we met Matt at Valenza. We followed Matt back to the kitchen, where he had 2 of the soft shells laid out. He had already cleaned the other 22. He had those 2 out to show us how to clean them and how to determine the sex. He showed us how to cut the face off, cut the ass out and cut the gills (lady fingers). He packed those 2 away with the others and asked us who was going to help us eat these. I told him I had no plans, but thought I would freeze some. Matt made a funny face and I knew something was up. He said you should not freeze them once you clean them. By the look on his face I could tell he was serious.
So we are heading South on I-85 and I am going through my mental Rolodex. Who would want to eat some soft shells ? Who would want to spend the afternoon cooking them four different ways ? Who has a wife that would also want too? Who lives near by and brews his own beer? Good Beer? So I called Jamey. He said he was in. Bringing the home brew. But right now he was under the house doing plumbing and he would be a couple of hours. His wife Sydnee would join us later.
So, Stacey and I got home and immediately pan fried two soft shells. Stacey boiled about a pound of shrimp we had in the fridge. We sat on the front porch and enjoyed them both with a ginger remoulade sauce.This is a very good sauce for all kinds of seafood.
So, Stacey and I are playing boccie ball in the yard when Jamey showed up - with home brew. So we immediately got some charcoal going and barbecued 5 soft shells. That's right, we cooked 5 soft shells on the BBQ. We slathered them in olive oil, salt and pepper and grilled them on each side for about 4 minutes. Matt told us how to do this.
We devoured those with some of the Ginger Remoulade sauce. After a couple of games of boccie ball, it was time to cook some oysters that we had in the refrigerator. Are you starting to see a theme here? Seafood. Lots of it. Gulf Coast. Get it while you can.
So as I was saying we cooked oysters. We cooked Oysters Rockefeller on the BBQ. We got the dish all ready and laid the oysters on a couple sheets of tin foil and laid that smack dab on the coals. I closed the lid and played a game of boccie. About 15 minutes later the three of us split a dozen oysters. Everything is better cooked on a live fire.
Next up fried soft shells. Jamey's wife Sydnee showed up with a couple beautiful pieces of salmon. We soaked 2 pieces of cedar wood in water while the BBQ was fired up again. We have a portable stove on the front porch and that's where we do our fried foods. Actually we cook a lot on that little burner. Anyway, we heated oil in a deep cast iron pot and cooked 6 soft shells. 3 at a time. I must say we did a good. Jamey put each piece of fish on a piece of cedar and put that on the grill. Thy cooked perfectly using this method. You could really taste the cedar. We enjoyed the crabs and fish with a corn a pea salad. Lot's of home brew and probably something I'm forgetting. Because, as has happened before, soon after eating all this food i slipped into a food coma. I was in this coma until late the next afternoon. I woke up wearing a sear sucker suit and white bucks. So I grabbed Stacey and went for cocktails.