My love for my Instant Pot runs deep. I use it for basic functions like making soups, cooking dried beans quickly, hard-boiling eggs, cooking pasta, making the perfect cheesecake, braising meat and poultry, but I also do more nuanced tasks like making yogurt and cheese in it.
So when my mom brought me a magazine article from a chef in Louisiana who steams oysters in the Instant Pot, I ran to my local seafood shop for fresh oysters to give them a try. What resulted is a slight obsession with steaming seafood in the multi-cooker, which could not be easier.
The beauty of the Instant Pot is that it's an all-in-one machine. You can sauté, steam, pressure cook, ferment, and if you are a true gadget nerd like me, you have a CrispLid that transforms the Instant Pot into an air fryer (note: newer models of the Instant Pot have an air fryer function, mine is just OG).
For my steamed seafood study, I used oysters, clams and mussels. I'll break down each bivalve mollusk and provide a simple formula that you simply can't forget.
Scroll down for a printable version of this recipe
I love chargrilled and baked oysters, but I will admit that shucking oysters is not my favorite kitchen task so I rarely make them at home. But if you steam them, the shucking is done for you! All you have to do is put the oysters in the Instant Pot with a little water, steam for a couple of minutes, quick release and the shells practically open on their own. I used my oyster knife for a couple of oysters, but most opened very easily by just pulling the shell apart with my fingers.
You will want to give the raw oysters a scrub under cold water to remove any dirt from the outside of the shells.
Then place them in the inner pot with the trivet set up. Add one cup of water.
Close and lock the lid. Select steam function and set timer for 2 minutes. It will take about 15 minutes for the pressure to build so while that's happening, melt 6 Tablespoons butter, and add 2 Tablespoons Tabasco sauce (or your hot sauce of choice), 1 clove garlic minced and 2 Tablespoons fresh chopped parsley and stir until combined.
Once the oysters are done, quick release. Open the shells and set on a serving platter. Now you have a blank oyster canvas that you can flavor however you like. You don't want to cook these again or they will get tough, so be sure your topping is ready to go.
Spoon the butter mixture generously over the top.
I served these with some grilled Royal Red shrimp as a special treat for my mom on Mother's Day since she brought me the recipe.
Once I saw how quick and easy steaming oysters was in the Instant Pot, I started experimenting with different toppings. Next on the menu was oysters four ways with toppings consisting of:
- Cajun Garlic Butter (same as above except I omitted the parsley since I used it in the below breadcrumb mixture)
- Classic Mignonette (red wine vinegar and minced shallot, typically served with raw oysters but also delicious on steamed ones)
- White Wine Cream Sauce (sauté shallot in butter, add white wine, reduce and add heavy cream and reduce again)
- Toasted Panko Breadcrumbs with Grated Parmesan Cheese and Parsley
All of the toppings were good, but when I combined the Cajun garlic butter with the breadcrumb mixture, we had a clear winner!
Now that the oysters have officially been mastered, I moved on to clams.
When purchasing fresh clams or any seafood, they should come with a label so you know where and when they were harvested. I was lucky enough to get Cedar Key clams from Florida.
I utilized the sauté function of the Instant Pot to make a white wine sauce to steam the clams in, but the rule of steaming for two minutes still applies.
Melt butter and sauté shallots. Add white wine and reduce.
Add the clams to the sauce. Close and lock the lid and steam for two minutes. Quick release.
Serve with the sauce, fresh chopped parsley and lots of crusty bread for sopping up the sauce. The clams will open right up in the Instant Pot, so discard any that don't.
Next up were mussels. Give your mussels a good rinse and discard any that are open or have broken shells.
Most of my mussels were already "cleaned" which means the beard has been removed, but I found a few stragglers. Just pull those hair-like fibers out of the mussel.
Now that I don't live in Chicago anymore, I really miss the Hopleaf's mussels and frites. So I thought I'd try to recreate those recipes as close as possible using my Instant Pot and CrispLid. Again, it's the same formula: steam for 2 minutes. This time, I made a sauce with rosé hard cider and shallot. The Hopleaf uses Wittekerke beer, but I couldn't find that and had a can of the cider in my pantry so I went with that.
I sautéed some shallot in butter, added the cider and then the mussels. Steam for 2 minutes and quick release (notice a very easy-to-remember pattern here?).
Once again, serve with lots of crusty bread to sop up that sauce and some fries made with the CrispLid (or any air fryer) with a garlic aioli for dipping and glass of rosé for sippin'.
The results of my steamed seafood study revealed that I would make all of these dishes again and again, and you should give them a try too!
If you have an Instant Pot but are intimidated by it, we are finally bringing you a virtual class to help alleviate your fears. Learn more about what your Instant Pot can do in your own kitchen in a virtual Intro to the Instant Pot demonstration with cookbook author and food writer Emily Paster on Saturday, July 17 at 10am CST.
- Cod with Tomatoes, Olives and Capers
- Rice with Vermicelli
- Hard-boiled Eggs
You'll learn how pressure cooking works, what makes an Instant Pot different from other pressure cookers, and how the Instant Pot can make cooking easier and more convenient. Get to know your Instant Pot intimately and no longer be intimidated by it with this virtual demonstration!