Oysters And Crab, Two Of The Sea's Most Sumptuous Gifts

If you didn't get your fill of summer's delectable gifts from the sea, there's no need to despair. Forget the trip to Maine for a lobster roll or to Alaska for salmon. Visit the best local seafood store, and chat with the fishmonger about what's fresh that day. Then all you need next is a good, simple, reliable recipe.

Two recent cookbooks feature two of the sea's most celebrated tastes: oysters and crabmeat. Both "Cooking With Crab: Best-Loved Recipes and Menus From Chesapeake Bay Gourmet" (QVC Publishing, 144 pp., $25), by Margie Kauffman, and "Oysters: A Culinary Celebration" (The Lyons Press, 246 pp., $25), by Joan Reardon, are swimming in excellent recipes.

A sense of place inspired both authors. Ms. Kauffman grew up in Baltimore and has always been fond of the Chesapeake Bay area, where crab plays a starring role in almost every restaurant and home kitchen.

Each region of the Chesapeake developed its own style of crab cakes. But Kauffman's recipe for the regional favorite, made with the finest jumbo lump crabmeat, is often called the best. In 1994, she helped start Chesapeake Bay Gourmet, a mail-order business featuring her award-winning crab cakes and other delicacies from the area. She offers dozens of ways to serve them, including topped with a roasted red-pepper sauce, or a fruit salsa, and paired with Eggs Benedict. Other ideas include Crab Spring Rolls and her Aunt Bessie's Crab Pudding.

For Ms. Reardon, oysters will be forever linked to the seaside village of Cotuit on Cape Cod. She cultivated her love of oysters during the 10 years she lived there. "Such a heavy concentration of oyster beds and shells was found on Cape Cod," she writes, "that many of its bays and harbors were simply named 'oyster' by the early explorers." Cotuit is especially proud of its indigenous bivalve, found in the bay that bears the village's name.

A culinary historian, Reardon offers an entertaining look at oyster consumption in the past before sharing more than 185 recipes influenced not only by her beloved Cotuit, but also by flavors of the Caribbean, Europe, and Asia.

Those who prefer this most delicate of seafoods on the half-shell can choose from nine sauces. Her soup, salad, and entre recipes will also rev up your appetite for oysters.

Now, if you could only find an oyster knife and pry that shell open....

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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