Oysters and Uni Butter Are a Match Made in Heaven

Brandon Boudet prepares the appetizer and two other seafood dishes on this week’s episode of Chefs at Home.

After chef Maneet Chauhan kicked off season two of Chefs at Home with three different Indian street food dishes, this week is all about Californian seafood. Brandon Boudet, chef/partner at Little Dom's and Little Dom's Seafood, makes a compound uni butter that he uses in two different recipes—as a topping for barbecued oysters, and in a sauce for squid-ink mafaldine pasta. To round it all out, he also prepares his version of cioppino, a seafood-packed stew that he says brings back his childhood. With summer (finally) on the horizon, these dishes are the perfect way to celebrate warmer weather.

Read on for all of the recipes and follow along with the videos below.

platter of bbq oysters with uni butter
Photo by Andrew Bui / Food Styling by Max Rappaport

Barbecued Oysters with Smoky Uni Butter

First up is the oysters with smoky uni butter. To start, you'll make the compound butter, which mixes uni gonads with unsalted butter and seasonings that include oregano, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Beat everything together with a hand-mixer until it's well-combined—and don't worry about it being perfect.

With the butter done, all that's left to do is broil the oysters. Shuck 'em (or, ask your fishmonger to do it for you) top them generously with the uni butter, and get them in the oven. Ultimately, you want the butter to melt and brown on the edges, which will only take a few minutes. Once they're finished, serve them with lemon wedges.

Cioppino with Fennel and Saffron

Next, Boudet prepares his cioppino, which he says is "a pretty foolproof recipe." He loads it up with three different kinds of crab—yellow crab, spider crab, and Dungeness crab claws—along with vermillion rock snapper and ridgeback shrimp. (The recipe below only calls for one type of crab, as well as clams and/or mussels.) The stew gets flavor from three different types of fennel (bulb, seed, and pollen) and saffron, too. It starts out by softening onions and fennel in a pot, and you add ingredients as you go, layering flavor. When the seafood goes in, take care not to overcook it.

Once you're ready to serve, don't forget to have grilled bread on hand so you can sop up all of the delicious liquid.

Squid Ink Mafaldine with Uni Butter

To wrap things up, Boudet's third dish is a simple squid-ink mafaldine pasta, paired with the same uni butter used for the barbecued oysters. Cook the pasta and get the uni butter in a hot pan with olive oil and green onions. When the pasta's done, transfer it to the pan (with the heat turned off), adding salt and a little more uni butter. Don't worry about straining—you want some of that starchy water to help thicken the sauce.

After tossing the pasta and making sure it's evenly coated, you're ready to go. Boudet likes to top the dish with "our version of dukkah" for texture and depth of flavor.

"Wow," he says. "The flavor is truly amazing. Nice strong punch of garlic and sea urchin. Nice little lemony touch and nice little crunch from the pine nuts. Just super amazing."

Stay tuned for our next episode of Chefs at Home featuring Chitra Agrawal.

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