The Dissertation, the Oregon Coast, and a Few Raw Oysters

Vacation? Who said vacation?

I meant a writing retreat, the only kind of get-away available to me this summer. It started in January: an idea, the reality of the dissertation and a looming deadline, some conversation, scheming and scheduling. So it happened that I went all the way to Pacific City, Oregon to spend two weeks waking up at five (I love jet lag) to sit at the wooden kitchen table with a tepid cup of tea, cranking out another chapter, distracted only by the view from the window. (In the spirit of full disclosure, I must reveal that I was also distracted by the wan wireless signal that my computer picked up intermittently. Addict, I am.) In lieu of a real vacation, it wasn’t so bad, especially as it came with nightly theological discussions with the friend from grad school who so generously hosted me, long walks on the beach, and meal after meal of fresh seafood. This transplanted beach kid needed to get her fill before returning to the Midwest.

I don’t know if they slurp down raw oysters with nam pla prik in Thailand, but in our family, we’ve always eaten them this way. You wouldn’t think briny oysters would benefit from briny fish sauce–but you would be wrong. It’s not just the fish sauce, the bite of lime and fresh chilies somehow makes the oysters crisper and juicier.

My family has these at Thanksgiving. Having always been warned not to eat oysters in months without an “r,” I was surprised to find Pacific oysters available in the summer. I still think they taste better in the colder months, but if you are so fortunate to have oysters come your way, pound up a batch of nam pla prik and slurp them down. They’re brain food, after all.

Raw Oysters with Nam Pla Prik

If you have leftover oysters, you can make a Tha-style Ceviche by throwing in your additional nam pla prik, extra lime juice, fish sauce, shallots and chilies.

As many oysters as you think you and your friends can eat, shucked and left on the half-shell

Nam pla prik

10 tiny green chilies
1/2 c. fish sauce, to taste
1 lime

Pound green chilies in mortar and pestle. Add fish sauce and lime. Taste and adjust flavors.



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2 responses to “The Dissertation, the Oregon Coast, and a Few Raw Oysters

  1. mmmm. this sounds fabu! i never really understood that whole “r-month” rule. glad to see you broke it and you’re not ill or anything! i’d love to eat some oysters this way…right now!


  2. My friend said that the r-rule doesn’t apply in the Pacific Northwest, because the ocean water comes down from Alaska and is frigid year round. Still, the oysters were not as good as they are in December on the east coast. I might recommend waiting another six months at least before indulging.

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