Stock Up: 3 ways to enjoy seafood this spring

Credit: Tyler Darden

Credit: Tyler Darden

You don’t have to live on the coast to love seafood, as many Atlantans will attest. Here are three ways to enjoy it at home.

Raw oysters

In 2001, cousins Ryan and Travis Croxton joined forces to revive their grandfather’s oyster business. Their Rappahannock Oyster Co. is named for the Virginia river that empties into Chesapeake Bay. The Croxtons farm their oysters in three locations on the bay, so they are able to produce varieties with different, distinctive characteristics. They ship the live oysters across the country. We tried the Rappahannock River variety, which have what the company refers to as an “understated” saltiness. They were not excessively briny, but still tasted of the salt water they grew in. We shared more than four dozen of them with friends, and even some who were reluctant to try a raw oyster ended up enjoying these — appreciating the almost sweet flavor, and wanting more. Rappahannock Oyster Co. also sells clams in the shell, as well as oysters that already have been shucked, to make that next batch of oyster stew as easy as possible.

$25 for 25 oysters, $50 for 50 oysters. Available at rroysters.com and localpalatemarketplace.com.

Credit: Handout

Credit: Handout

Tinned tuna and sardines

Tinned seafood is having a moment, especially upscale varieties, such as the tuna and sardines from Wild Planet, based in McKinleyville, California. The company partners with small-scale fisheries and others in the community who use sustainable fishing practices, including methods that help ensure they are catching only the fish they intend to catch. Both Wild Planet’s sardines, and the company’s pole- and line-caught albacore tuna, were a huge hit with a group of taste testers. The can of tuna contains a solid piece, with only salt as an added ingredient — no oil or water, and no little flakes floating around. It was a perfect piece of fish, with a steak-like texture. The sardines were plump and almost buttery (they’re packed in extra virgin olive oil). Even if you’ve tried sardines, and they were too fishy for you, these might make you a convert. Now, we’ll just have to buy more of both, so we can try some of the recipes on the website, including the Korean braised sardines and the tahini Dijon tuna burgers.

$2.99-$3.49 per 4.4-ounce tin of sardines. $4.99-$5.99 per 5-ounce can of albacore tuna. Available at Kroger, Publix, Whole Foods Market and wildplanetfoods.com/collections/all.

Credit: Handout

Credit: Handout

Blue crab salsa

We are big fans of Old Florida Gourmet Products. The company, based in Palm City, Florida, has been selling tortilla chips, corn chips, potato and sweet potato chips, cheese dips, salsas, jams and marmalade since 2010. We also are big fans of crab. So, when we learned Old Florida made blue crab salsa in both mild and zesty flavors, we had to try both. One person who sampled the salsa on a cracker immediately said it reminded him of an oyster on the half shell, topped with cocktail sauce — lots of seafood flavor with the tang of fresh horseradish. The first ingredient in the salsa is tomatoes and the second is crab, so there’s crab in every spoonful. The zesty flavor is made with horseradish, Worcestershire and some cayenne, so there’s a bit of heat at the back end. The mild flavor is a simpler mix of tomatoes, crab, bell and chile peppers, as well as some seasonings. Either flavor would be a good substitute for cocktail sauce, and we finished off the little bit left in our jars by using it as a topping for a spinach quiche.

$5.59 per 12-ounce jar of zesty or mild salsa. Order at oldfloridagourmetproducts.com.

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