A little history about oysters
|The jewels of the sea fully scrubbed and ready for the freezer|
Oysters have a long history on the human table. There is proof that they were consumed as far back as pre-historic times. Traditionally, oysters were considered to be an aphrodisiac. Due to their high zinc content and also the fact that they are rich in amino acids it turns out these help generously in the sex department.
These lovely creatures vary in North America from a West Coast oyster such as the Tornado Cove or Royal Miyagi which taste less like the ocean and a bit more buttery and or even the distinctive taste of the famous Kumamoto from Humboldt Bay The Blue Point from New York and the Cape May in New Jersey. There are more varieties as well and the water and its content will really determines its flavor.
It was once assumed that oysters were only safe to eat in months with the letter ‘r’ in their English and French names. This is a myth whose basis in truth is that in the northern hemisphere oysters are much more likely to spoil in May, June, July, and August. This is really about the water temperature and my only advice because man always messes with nature (pollution), people who have a low immune system may want to stay away from them during these months. I don’t know but also do not think this applies to farm raised oysters.
What To Do! What to Do!
Oysters are eaten in every way possible including pickled! It or its liqueur is also used in a variety of drinks. Oysters Rockefeller is divine but I cant ever imagine anything more delicious as cracking open the shell fresh caught with nothing but anticipation!. Oysters to me are best served raw and cold! Rich in vitamins and minerals (please note I feel nothing farm raised is going to be what I think nature intended so I only buy sustainable wild seafood), they are also low in calories which make it a great for calorie conscious folks.
Oyster has a very complex flavor and depending on which region your oysters are from the flavor will also vary. Their ‘flavor profile’ you will find sometimes sweet with a fruity finish, sometimes briny, salty, and the texture can vary as well. I realize there are those who will never get over the explosions of flavor from a very delicate fleshy yet firm texture but I delight in it!
Below is my own version of a Mignonette sauce, which is just a lemon wine and shallot based sauce that works well with wine and when the plan is to consume as much oysters as possible.
The oysters will need cleaning so a good sturdy kitchen or seafood brush comes in handy here. As an amateur I made sure I scrubbed to avoid any grit when serving. I then placed them in the fridge for approximately 12 to 15 minutes. This does depend on the fridge so its ok to start checking after 10 minutes or so.
|Slipping the knife gently under preserves the delicate meat|
You won't see any big crack openings but an ever so slight space to insert your knife. I used a big towel to avoid cutting my hand off. Shucking does take some strenght and some getting used to. I also used my kitchen counter as a level surface to avoid spilling one drop of the delicious oyster liqueur. When shucking, once the oysters have opened gently take the knife and run under the oyster to detach it from the shell and make it easier to eat. I then placed the oysters on a bed of ice, saran wrapped and placed them in the refrigerator while I made the sauce.
I knew I wanted to have a lemon based sauce, but also light enough to complement and not mask all the flavors and textures the oyster so lovingly shares. To accomplish this I compiled the following ingredients
1/2 a medium jalapeño finely chopped
Small bunch of cilantro finely chopped
1 mediun shallot finely chopped
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup olive oil
fresh ground pepper
dash of red pepper flakes
Mix all ingredients together well. Spoon about 1/2 a tablespoon on each oyster depending on size and to taste. Serve immediately so a not to allow the lemon juice to cook the meat.
|Finely diced shallots, jalepenos, lemon juice and more tops the oysters.|
This can be a very contentious issue. You know, the wine thing! Seems everyone is their own best..... and worst sommelier and more and more everyone has their own opinion on which wine works with what, and why. Well I, also being opinionated will make my own suggestion. To compliment my oysters a clean light wine is best so I got a chardonnay/chenin blend. The chard for the oakiness and subtle flavor, the chenin for its light and fresh taste so as not to cancel the oyster flavors but rather round the flavors out. Both have a bit of fruitiness so the blend is superb for most oyster varietals.
|The finished delightfully delicious dish|
It is still a dish I'm working on getting my husband to try. He simply could not get past the glistening jewels staring back at him. I've heard it said that most try their first oyster almost always raw, and on a dare. Frankly I enjoy them so I dont think I'm ready to dare him yet!