Travels

Party-Time Oyster Shooters

Who invented the oyster shooter is lost in the mist of time, but that takes nothing away from their popularity as a party favorite. The combinations are endless, from the ever-popular and elegant Champagne shooter to the equally impressive Oyster Stout shooter. In both instances, one places an oyster in a shot glass and fills in the rest with his or her favorite sparkling wine or stout. (Guinness is the standard, but there is a seemingly endless supply of wonderful stouts and ales on the market to try.)

For the slightly more adventurous, try this one, gleaned from our contemporaries at the Hog Island Oyster Company, located 49 miles from San Francisco on Tomales Bay.

Oyster Shooters with Tequila and Lime

The Hog Island Oyster Lover’s Cookbook
Jairemarie Pomo
© 2007 Ten Speed Press

Ingredients:

  • 3-4’ long Eastern oysters on the half shell, on a bed of crushed ice.
  • Tabasco sauce.
  • Tequila.
  • Limes.
  • Fresh horseradish root, grated.

Preparation:

For each shooter, put an oyster into a shot glass and add one of the following: a few shakes of Tabasco sauce, a splash of tequila, a squeeze of a quartered lime, or 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated horseradish. Shoot!

[My note: Don’t be shy experimenting. The tequila, lime, and dash of Tabasco is killer…]

Grilled Oysters – The Easy Way

I have grilled littlenecks over an open charcoal fire for years, but not until recently did I think to grill oysters… don’t ask why. The grilling is simple enough, but remember that what you do with them afterwards will make this dish uniquely yours.

Prepare a nice, hot charcoal fire. I always use a natural charcoal and not briquettes because they burn hotter and are petrochemical free, unlike Kingsford or equivalent briquettes. If the latter are all that is available to you, make sure that they are covered completely with a gray ash before grilling the oysters. This helps to insure that all the chemicals have burned off before you begin cooking. Alternatively for you gas grillers, stoke the burners up to high and let ‘er rip!

Buy as many oysters as you think your guests will eat (4-6 is usually a good number) and give the shell a quick rinse and scrub. This won’t help the insides at all but it’ll make them look pretty. Place the oyster, shell and all, on the grill top, cup side down. An oyster has two distinct sides, a flat and a cup side; the cup holds the meat and the flat side is the lid. You want the lid to be on the top, so that as they cook and the lid pops open, the oysters and juice stay in their nice little cups. Keep the oysters on the heat until they have opened, then remove them to a serving plate or tray, being careful not to burn yourself on the hot shell, inside steam, or boiling hot liquor. With a blunt knife, take the flat shell off and run the blade under the oyster to loosen it from the cup. At this point they are ready to eat, either as is or with your favorite dipping sauces (mine is a rich garlic butter).

Emeril Lagasse, Food Network star and Fall River native, has his own twist on this grilled oyster idea.

Emeril’s Grilled Oysters

Total Time: 1 hr 11 min

Prep: 35 min
Inactive:  30 min
Cook:  6 min
Yield:  6 to 8 servings

Ingredients:

  • 10 tablespoons softened unsalted butter.
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.
  • 2 tablespoons minced parsley leaves.
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice.
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic.
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh chives.
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce, optional.
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt.
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper.
  • 24 shucked oysters, half of each shell reserved and washed.

Preparation:

In a bowl combine all ingredients except the oysters and mix thoroughly to combine. Transfer butter mixture to a piece of plastic wrap and roll up to form a tight log and freeze until firm.

Preheat a grill to high.

Place the washed oyster shells on a baking sheet and top each shell with 1 oyster. Remove the butter from the freezer and unwrap. Slice the butter into 24 rounds, and place 1 round on top of each oyster. Place the oysters on the preheated grill and cook until the oysters are just cooked through, curled around the edges, and the butter is melted and bubbly, 4 to 6 minutes.

Serve immediately.

 

Southern Fried Oysters

One of the current icons of Southern cooking is Paula Deen. Her exhaustive understanding of good food and how to prepare it is enjoyed by her devoted fans through her television show, cookbooks, the internet, and of course The Lady and Sons Restaurant in Savannah, Georgia. The following is her interpretation of a classic southern dish.

Servings: 4
Prep Time: 15 min
Cook Time: 10 min
Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup Paula Deen Vidalia Onion Peach Grilling Marinade. [My note: Your favorite marinade will work equally as well, if this is not available to you.]
  • 1 tablespoon sour cream.
  • 12 freshly shucked oysters.
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour.
  • 2 large eggs.
  • 3 tablespoons Paula Deen Hot Sauce. [My note: Same as before.]
  • 1 cup panko (Japanese bread crumb).
  • 2 cups peanut or canola oil.
  • Kosher salt.

Preparation:

For the dipping sauce: In a small bowl, combine the Vidalia Onion Peach Grilling Marinade and sour cream. Mix well and set aside.

In a small bowl, place the flour. In a second small bowl, whisk the egg and 3 tablespoons of the hot sauce. In a third small bowl, place the panko. Dredge the oysters in the flour shaking off any excess. Dip the flour-dredged oysters in the egg mixture. Shake off any excess and roll oysters in the panko being sure to completely coat. Place on a baking sheet and place in the refrigerator while oil comes to temperature.

In a heavy skillet, heat oil to 325 degrees. Add the breaded oysters and fry until golden brown, about 1-2 minutes. Drain on paper towels and immediately sprinkle with kosher salt. Serve warm with the spicy dipping sauce.

Oyster Stew

Every once in awhile, I will buy some New England “thing” on eBay. My most recent purchase was a wooden-covered 1936 cookbook entitled The New England Cookbook of Fine Old Recipes. The following recipe is adapted from this book and is similar to that made by others, including my Grandmother Lees.

Ingredients:

  • 1 quart of shucked oysters. If you’re shucking them yourself, reserve the liquor (liquid) because you’ll need 2 cups for the stew. If buying them from your local seafood market, make sure that they include the liquid with your order.
  • 2 cups of heavy cream. You can certainly tone this down and make it with either light cream or a combination of heavy cream and milk, to taste. The more diluted the more it resembles oyster soup, but your stomach and heart doctor may applaud you for this.
  • 4 tablespoons butter. I really prefer Kerrygold Irish butter for its yellowy color and rich flavor. If this is not available to you, any high-quality butter will do. Please do not use margarine! You already have oysters and heavy cream to contend with. I doubt a supposedly lower-fat alternative will do you any good, and it certainly won’t make the stew jump for joy…
  • Celery salt, to taste. Better to add a little at a time.
  • Ground black pepper, to taste.

Preparation:

In a 2-quart (or larger) saucepan, bring 1 cup of the oyster liquor to a boil and cook for 5 minutes, skimming the foam off the top. Turn the heat down to medium and add the cream, butter, celery salt, and pepper. Keep hot but not boiling, stirring occasionally.

In a second saucepan, add the remaining liquor and the oyster meat. Cook on a medium heat until the edge of the oysters begin to curl and the middle becomes translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Strain the liquid from the oysters and discard. Place the cooked oysters into the cream broth, stir, and serve immediately.

Bentley’s Asian Oysters Tempura

Cindy and I, along with our friends Duncan and Kath, stumbled into (and out of)  this wonderful restaurant and oyster bar in the center of Dublin overlooking St. Stephen’s Green. What started out as a quick in and out ended up as a two-hour oyster and champagne extravaganza… Who says Ireland has no cuisine? This is my interpretation…

Ingredients:

  • 12 shucked oysters. Or you can buy already shucked meat from your local supplier.
  • Tempura mix. Found in almost every supermarket and Asian specialty store.
  • Tempura oil. Found in almost every supermarket and Asian specialty store.
  • Cantaloupe. You can use as much as you’d like for this dish. A 1/4 cantaloupe goes a long way so start off with that and increase if as you wish.
  • Honey. Any good quality honey will do.
  • Sweet red chili sauce. Found in almost every supermarket and Asian specialty store.
  • Freshly ground black pepper.

 

Preparation:

Cut a 1/4 wedge out of the cantaloupe, seed, and peel away from the outer skin. Your goal is to create matchstick sized pieces, so unless you have a kitchen gadget that does this for you, it’s the old fashioned way. Take a sharp knife and cut the cantaloupe into 1/4” slices. Lay each piece flat on your cutting board and cut into 1/4” strips. Finally cut each 1/4”x1/4” piece into something resembling a matchstick length (about 2” or so). Place in a shallow bowl or container.

Mix equal parts honey and sweet red chili sauce. For this amount of fruit, begin with 2 tablespoons of each. You can always add more. Drizzle the combined sauce over the cantaloupe and gently but thoroughly mix with your fingertips. This method doesn’t break up the fruit, and gives you something to lick afterwards.

At this point you can put the fruit mixture into some type of serving container. Bentley’s uses the cupped portion of the oyster shell, I have used that as well as a martini glass. You can also build a nest on an appetizer plate. The choice is yours, but whatever you decide, do it now and put it in the refrigerator until the oysters are ready to plate.

Now for the oysters. They want to be lightly fried in a tempura batter and then placed hot on top of the cantaloupe mixture. Rather than describing how to do this here, the method described on the back of the tempura batter package will give you great instructions. Just follow them and you’ll be good to go.

Finally, place 2 tempura oysters on top of the each cantaloupe mixture, top with a bit of freshly ground black pepper and garnish with a sprig of mint or basil.

There you have it! Enjoy…

Al Lees on the Art of Enjoying Oysters

Few people were born with a craving for oysters. In fact, it could be argued that the enjoyment of a raw oyster on the half shell is the gastronomic equivalent of not being happy unless you’re miserable. On the other hand, the one I prefer to think of as correct, is that oysters maintain a cultural, historic, and culinary place that is almost unmatched by any other consumable contender. The Romans devoured vast quantities of these delectable bivalve mollusks on their way towards oblivion. Archaeologists have discovered untold numbers of oyster shells, some a foot or longer, in Native and early British colonial middens (or trash heaps) scattered throughout coastal New England. And today, literally thousand of years later, oysters are still eaten and enjoyed raw, cooked, boiled, steamed, and fried in countless global cafes, restaurants, households, and beach parties. How cool is that to think that we are dining on the same food that turned Julius Caesar and Massasoit on!

One of my many joys as an oyster farmer is to discover ways of preparing oysters that appeal to me and then pass it on to all of you. While some of these recipes can become a bit fussy, the majority are simple, straightforward adaptations of traditional preparations. Whenever possible, I have tried to keep my selection of oyster recipes focused on developing flavors and textures of natural, uncomplicated ingredients. Food should be fun, enhancing the joy of family and friends who gather around the table. Funny enough, while the oyster has not been lost in history, the pure enjoyment of dining may well be in such danger. Hmmm… I wonder if oysters could teach us something?

We hope that you enjoy this sampling of oyster recipes. More will be forthcoming as inspiration, travels, and experimentation give us new ideas to share. As always, please feel free to share your favorite oyster recipes with us and our other readers.