Shellfish lovers rejoice! The Santa Monica Farmers’ Market has a new shellfish vendor. Carlsbad Aquafarm has been family owned and operated since 1990 by third generation Californians, and produces local, farm-raised shellfish in ocean water using no chemicals. Their shellfish are grown in the coastal waters of the Rancho Aqua Lagoon in San Diego, where the unique tidal flow and rich nutrient cycles contribute to excellent flavor. Each batch of shellfish has been laboratory tested to assure that it is free of bacteria, meeting and exceeding the requirements of the National Shellfish Sanitation Program. All of Carlsbad Aquafarm products are purified after harvesting in specially designed tanks containing filtered and UV-treated water, naturally eliminating dirt, bacteria, and sand, as well as allowing the shellfish to recover from the shock of harvest. They also use suspended, long line culturing methods preventing the shellfish from contacting the sandy sea floor.
Carlsbad Aquafarm has mussels, clams, oysters, scallops, abalone, and seaweed (ogo) available at the Santa Monica Farmers’ Markets. Carlsbad mussels are a Mediterranean mussel called Gallo. They have a bold taste and are the same species enjoyed for centuries throughout Italy, Spain, and France. Luna Oysters have a cultured ivory colored shell, rich flavored liquor, and an incredibly fresh taste. They have two varieties of clams, Golden Manila Clams and the heartier Signature Clam – mix the two for a delicious cippino. Red seaweed (ogo) is naturally nutritious and adds a tasty crunch to salads or poke and a lovely garnish to seafood dishes.
Rob Jenkins is a retired marine and chef who now works for Carlsbad Aquafarm. He was a chef in the Marine Corps and owned his own Cajun restaurant for ten years. You can meet Jenkins at the Carlsbad Aquafarm stand at the Wednesday and Saturday Pico Market. Carlsbad Aquafarm will not be at the Market during March and part of April because Jenkins will be coaching a youth football team on Saturdays. Here is one of his favorite recipes.
Coach Rob’s Grilled Oyster
1 cup butter, softened
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons minced shallot
2 tablespoons lime juice
3 tablespoons chili sauce
12 fresh oysters in shells
2 tablespoons lime juice
In a medium bowl, stir together the butter, cilantro, garlic, shallot, lime juice, and chili sauce. Spoon onto waxed paper and roll into a log. Place into the freezer until set. Preheat a grill for high heat. Place whole oysters on the hot grill from three to five minutes, or until almost done. Remove the top shell from the oysters, without spilling any liqueur, and return them to the grill. Slice the butter log into 1/4 inch slices, and place a slice on top of each oyster. Grill until the butter melts, then serve on a bed of rock salt for presentation.