This week was very productive in terms of my project. Like I said before, I’m making a guide to the shellfish industry in Oregon including information about growing and harvesting regulations, licenses and permits, standard shipping practices, etc. Since there hasn’t been much comprehensive research about the topic, it is up to me to interview as many people involved in the industry as possible to get the scoop. It feels a little bit like detective work, which makes it extra alluring. I was really itching to get out in the field with my tape recorder and note pad, when my adviser put me in touch with the owner of Oregon Oyster Farms here in Newport. I called him immediately and set up an appointment to meet with him at the facilities to do an interview and a tour. Needless to say, I was pumped.
When I arrived, I was greeted with enthusiasm and was taken to his office. The interview went great and even when we strayed from the questions written in my outline he provided expert opinions on the way the entire shellfish industry works (he not only grows oysters, but harvests, processes, and ships them internationally, as well as buying other types of seafood from different markets and selling them to his loyal customers). One topic that he was especially helpful with was figuring out what agency has jurisdiction over issuing the health certificates needed for a shipment of shellfish to be exported. In my research there was a little bit of confusion on whether Oregon Department of Agriculture, NOAA, or USDA was the main issuer of these licenses. As it turns out ODA used to issue these certificates for oysters until Chinese companies stopped accepting state issued licenses and instead worked out a deal with NOAA and the U.S. Department of Commerce. Currently the system under NOAA is not very uniform and the rest of my week was spent trying to get a hold of someone from the agency to discuss their inspection procedures (no luck yet!). After the interview I got to tour the whole farm and then I got to try some raw Pacific, Kumamoto, and Olympia oysters, which are far superior to those down in my neck of the woods. He even sent me home with a small tub of smoked oysters, so I must have done something right.
The rest of my week was spent transcribing my first interview and then making different phone calls to various agencies trying to get more clarification on licensing and inspection procedures. It has been pretty difficult to get in touch with some of the authorities on the subject, but I will continue to try. Also, my adviser gave me names of two Sea Grant Extension employees who will probably be able to give me a little more information on the industry and guide me on what I should be doing; however, I haven’t heard back from them yet either. But no matter! Perseverance is key in business and policy, so I will push forward.
Anyways, my weekend was pretty great. While there wasn’t much going on at the compound a few of us went out to an Irish pub on Friday and hiking at Drift Creek Falls on Saturday—my shins are still aching (from the hike not the pub!). Sunday was a pretty lazy day, but my roommate and I decided to give clamming another shot since she got her shellfish license. On the walk down there a bird pooped on my windbreaker, a sign that we would have excellent luck. While our luck wasn’t excellent, it wasn’t horrible either. I feel like I have a technique down and now I just need practice. We left with about 10 clams, mostly small ones, but I decided to cook them anyways. I looked up some chowder recipes, but decided to put my own twist on it. Everyone was a little skeptical, but I made believers out of all of them! Here’s the recipe:
Novice Clammer’s Louisiana Clam ChowderTM (adapted from some other, less delicious, chowder recipe)
¼ cup butter
½ cup diced onions →
½ cup diced green pepper → the trinity in Cajun cooking
½ cup diced celery →
3-4 stalks of kale (because its just sitting in your fridge and needs something to do)
¼ cup and 2 T. flour
3 medium red potatoes, or however many your neighbors will give you (thanks Lauren)
8oz. jar clam juice
14.5 oz can vegetable broth, because clam juice is deceptively expensive
However many clams you can find (which, let’s face it, isn’t very many right now)
¼ lb. cod fillet, gotta have some sort of filler for those darn clams!
¼ cup smoked oysters, if
you are lucky enough to be gifted some!
1-2 lemon wedges, more if you aren’t able to get your hands on a Fred Meyer lemon the size of a hand grenade
1 pint of half & half
Salt to taste
Start by melting the butter in a large saucepot. Sautee the trinity and kale in the butter until all the veggies are soft and the onions are transparent, add the flour and stir. Take off the heat and set aside. Meanwhile, cut the potatoes into small cubes and boil in a small pot for about 15 minutes or until tender, but not falling apart. Drain and set aside. After cleaning your few mostly small to medium clams (or getting someone else to do it for you!) chop them into small bite sized pieces along with the cod and oysers. Bring the clam juice, vegetable broth, all of your meats from the sea, and lemon to a boil in a medium pot, then lower the heat and let simmer for 15 minutes. Pour the broth gradually into the vegetable and flour mixture and stir, bringing it up to a slow boil. Lower the heat and add the cooked potatoes, then add the half & half while stirring. Keep on low heat, but don’t bring to a boil again. Serve to skeptical roommates/compound mates and watch as you blow their minds.