Pearl of an Oyster Cracker

Soup season is in full swing, no matter what sort of winter has arrived to greet these early days of March. Whether the elements chose to blow in a gentle yet chilly breeze in the evenings or pound the earth, day and night, with torrents of frozen rain, a bowl of something warm and soothing is guaranteed to hit the spot. Even in the heat of summer, a generous ladleful of steamy, brothy sustenance is not an unwelcome sight, but that’s a tale for another time. Right now, let’s focus on the often overlooked, undervalued side kick to these endless rounds of piping hot stew: The oyster cracker. When dining out, does a single diner give those sterile, single-serving packages a second thought? Or even a third, or fourth? Much more commonly found ground into a fine gravel of crumbs at the bottom of one’s purse than happily floating atop of pool of sumptuous soup, it’s about time they were given their due.

Granted, while I hate to say it, the traditional oyster cracker simply doesn’t have much going for it. It’s the filler that takes the place of more exciting flavors, contributing only a fleeting crunch at best. The only fix for this cracker conundrum is to take matters into our own hands and start from scratch, with a sturdy foundation of spice to build from.

Inspired by everyone’s favorite Japanese junk food, wasabi peas, this wheat-based reincarnation incorporates a buttery bite into every tiny morsel, ideal for adding a bit of depth to the otherwise merely hot sensation. Besides getting a considerable boost in the flavor department, that alluring green hue can be attributed the power of frozen spinach, lending more nutritional value than mere white flour could ever hope to contain.

If it seems like a serious ordeal to go through just for some silly little oyster crackers, consider expanding your snack horizons and cutting your crackers larger. Flavorful enough to stand on their own or pair beautifully with creamy dips, the only limitations come from your cookie cutters. My tiny flowers struck me as more charming than the standard hexagon shape, but anything goes, as long as you keep an eye on them in the oven. Baking times do vary based on the desired sizes, so stay close by while they cook.

Wasabi Oyster Crackers

1 Cup Frozen Spinach, Thawed
1/3 Cup Rice Bran, Avocado, or Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Prepared Wasabi Paste*
1 Teaspoon Nutritional Yeast
2 1/2 Cups White Whole Wheat Flour
1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
2 – 4 Tablespoons Water

*Beware of unwelcome ingredients! 9.5 times out of 10, you’ll find horseradish in those tubes rather than actual wasabi root, but that’s nothing to be alarmed about. What you should keep an eye out for, however, are sweeteners and animal products. Strange but true, many brands incorporate milk derivatives to extend the spicy flavor, so be vigilant!

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and line two sheet pans with silpats or parchment paper.

Pull out your food processor and puree the thawed spinach, oil, wasabi, and nutritional yeast, blending until completely smooth. You may need to pause and scrape down the sides of the bowl with your spatula to ensure that all of the greenery is fully incorporated. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt before adding the dry mixture into the food processor as well. Pulse a few times to begin incorporating the flour, again scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Slowly drizzle in just enough water to bring everything together into a pebbly sort of dough that sticks together when pressed. Be careful not to overdo it and add too much liquid, or else it will be next to impossible to handle.

Knead the resulting dough lightly, just until it forms a fairly smooth ball. Flatten it into a disk and roll it out on a well-floured surface. Try to get it out thin as possible, much like pasta dough, for the crunchiest, crispiest crackers.

Use cookie cutters of your choice to punch out the crackers, or simply use a pizza cutter or sharp knife to slice out squares or rectangles. Aim to make them no larger than an inch, or plan to lower the temperature considerably and bake for a longer time if you’d prefer larger pieces. Transfer the shapes to your prepared baking sheets and prick them once or twice with a fork to allow the steam to vent while they bake.

For crackers about an inch wide, bake for 15 – 20 minutes, although your mileage may vary. Thinner crackers and those closer to the edge of your baking sheets will cook faster. Pull crackers out once golden, and return any to the oven that are still soft. Crackers will crisp a bit more during cooling, but should be dry when removed.

Let cool completely and store in an air-tight container.

Printable Recipe

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9 thoughts on “Pearl of an Oyster Cracker

  1. We Aussies don’t tend to dip anything in our soup aside from bread, but these gorgeously hued green crunchy little morsels of great promise are more than just something humble to throw into homemade potage. It is 2.57am here in darkest “almost winter” Sidmouth and I am trying hard not to squeal with delight. You ALWAYS come up with the goods Ms Hannah. There is something special about you that allows you to take something humble and punk it up to the max. These little crackers (or big crackers as I am going to pimp them…) would be amazing with so many things. Roll them out and cut them into long fingers for dipping into smooth creamy vegan dips that could do with a punch of flavour. We have an hydroponic wasabi farm not too far away from here and real wasabi is amazing stuff. I have no problem with the tubes of horseradishy happiness so long as that PUNCH of heat and flavour is there. I will check the ingredients post-haste before I use the half empty tube in my fridge now that you have pointed out the nefarious inclusion of animal products. You have to be SO careful these days! Cheers for brightening my early morning and giving me something to look forward to making when Brunhilda wakes up from her slumber. She hasn’t really had much of a sleep this year as our summer only started at the beginning of February and went for 3 weeks! Strange weather sees us both enjoying cold temperatures and rain but I, for one, am NOT complaining :)

  2. I know I would love this because I love wasabi peas! It would be so hard for me to stop just at one.

    Also love how you choose to use spinach making these. Just wondering, what are oyster crackers? I’ve yet to come across them.

    1. It’s hard to imagine a world without oyster crackers, but I guess since I grew up in New England and a serious chowder culture, they were probably more prevalent here than in most places anyway. They’re basically just little hexagonal or octagonal water crackers/saltines that you throw on top of a thick, creamy soup to add a bit more texture. Traditionally, they have just about zero flavor and go soggy very quickly though, thus I saw room for improvement.

  3. Sadly, I have never heard of the oyster cracker either – I guess they haven’t made it across the Atlantic yet! I love the flavours you’ve chosen though, especially wasabi, so I’ll be experiencing them in my kitchen soon!

    1. Trust me, you haven’t missed anything if you’ve never tasted the original inspiration for this recipe (see my comment above to jothetartqueen.) I’d love to hear what you think of my new interpretation, though! :)

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