Famously, they are said to be an aphrodisiac. It might not have made you fall in love with your dining partner this past Valentine’s day but shucking endless oysters that day made me want to explore oyster cooking. In conversations with guests I learned that many people enjoy the flavor of oysters but they don’t seem to care much for the slippery texture of these little mollusks in their raw state. With that in mind a recent abundance of beautiful fleshy oysters made us explore oyster cooking in various ways including frying, stewing, and one stood out most - pickling oysters! Pickling seems to be the right match resulting in a great firm and fleshy texture, resistant with a mild bite then finally dissolving into a briny, refreshing ocean pool in my mouth. I loved it.
(three pickled oysters and vegetable variation: with carrots, purple Japanese radish, golden beets)
(recipe yields 1 dz. oysters)
1 cup water
1 cup rice vinegar
1 lemon, juiced
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 bay leaf
1 pinch pepper flakes
5 coriander seeds
12 large oysters such as Belon or any other large sized, briny oyster
1. In a pot combine water, vinegar, lemon, honey, sea salt bay leaf, peppercorns and coriander seeds then bring to boil and steep for 30 minutes.
2. Shuck oysters then rinse with water and place in a shallow container next to each other. Reserve deep oyster shells
3. Bring spice mixture to boil again then pour through a fine mesh sieve over shucked oysters. Steep oysters for two hours before serving
Chef’s Note: Serve pickled oysters individually in deep oyster shells with some of their pickling liquid.
Casanova knew it
Oysters are nutritionally sound containing a high amount of protein, carbohydrates and are an excellent source of vitamins A, B1, B2, B3 C and D. All of these vitamins are said to help one’s stamina. That plus the suggestive texture and taste of oysters .. well need I say more.
(keep oysters on indirect ice at all times)
A season for oysters?
There is a little bit of a myth out there that oysters should be eaten only in months with “r-s” in them (September – April). In reality oysters have to be continuously refrigerated so when the thermometer climbs too high keeping oysters chilled well is of utmost importance – if they are stored properly they are perfectly fine to be consumed all year around.