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A Feast of Oysters
  |  First Published: June 2010



That magic mollusc, the oyster, is a bundle of goodness.

Research shows they are low in cholesterol and high in omega-3, calcium, zinc, iron and copper. Few foods can compare to oysters in nutritional value.

Oysters can be purchased in their shell, already shucked (opened) in the half shell or bottled. It’s easy to shuck your own with technique rather than brute strength the way to go.

To shuck the oyster, hold the unopened shell in your hand. It is a good idea to protect your hand with a chain mesh glove, or folded tea towel. Oyster knives are readily available and make the job of opening the oyster much easier than a screwdriver or kitchen knife.

Hold the oyster with the deep shell downwards in your hand. Insert the tip of the oyster knife into the hinge of the oyster. The hinge is where the two shells are joined. Twist the oyster knife in the hinge to open the oyster. Don’t attempt to open the oyster by inserting the knife into the front of the shell.

Slide the oyster knife inside the upper shell to cut the muscle that attaches the oyster to the shell. To serve, discard the upper shell, cut the muscle under the lower half of the shell and flip the oyster over in the shell to present the curved surface.

Divinely Luxurious Oysters

This is a wonderfully decadent recipe that enhances the flavour of the oysters without overwhelming their beautiful creamy saltiness. If you are a lover of smoked salmon and caviar, please reward yourself and use both of them in the recipe. However, either can be omitted if you prefer.

Ingredients

12 oysters in half shells

2-3 tbsp lemon juice

3 pieces of smoked salmon cut into thin strips

100mL sour cream or crème fraiche

2 tbsp snipped chives

red or black caviar, for garnish

Method

Place the oysters onto a serving platter. To ensure that the oysters remain upright, layer the serving platter with either crushed ice or some coarse rock salt. Bed the oyster shells onto the tray.

Sprinkle the oysters with a little of the lemon juice and add a small spiral of smoked salmon strip to the top of the oyster.

Spoon a small amount of sour cream or crème fraiche onto the oyster and top with a little caviar.

Sprinkle a tiny amount of snipped chives over the top of the loaded oyster and you are ready to serve.

Baked Oysters

This rich and delicious oyster recipe is perfect to serve in the cooler months. I like the richness the porcini mushrooms gives to this recipe but they can be substituted with thinly sliced button mushrooms. Bottled oysters are a good option for this recipe because the shells are not used.

Handy hint: If you are using bottled oysters, check the saltiness of the liquid in which they come. If it is quite salty, omit the salt that is added during the recipe. You could also regulate the saltiness of the recipe by only using half of the oyster liquid and making up the volume with water.

Ingredients

1/2 leek, white part only

2 dozen oysters, with their juice

2 tbsp olive oil

5-6 porcini mushrooms, soaked in warm water

4 tbsp plain flour

500mL milk

freshly ground salt and pepper

a generous pinch of cayenne

a small slug (2 tbsp white wine or vermouth)

Method

Wash and thinly slice the leek. Take care when you are washing the leek because dirt and grit can be easily trapped between the layers of the leek.

Preheat your oven to 200C/400F.

Heat the olive oil over a medium heat in a heavy based saucepan. Drain the porcini mushrooms and slice thinly. Add the leek and mushrooms to the pan and sauté until tender.

Remove the leek and mushrooms from the pan and place to one side, leaving as much oil in the pan as possible.

Return the pan to the heat, blend the plain flour with the oil left in the pan, adding the salt, pepper and cayenne and continue to cook for a couple of minutes. Gradually add the milk to the pan, whisking vigorously until the milk thickens.

Add the oysters and the liquid from the bottle plus the sautéed leek and mushrooms to the milk mixture in the pan. Stir in the white wine or vermouth and stir well. Spoon the oyster mixture into individual gratin dishes or one larger casserole dish.

If you are using the smaller gratin dishes, bake for 10 minutes only. If you are using the larger dish, bake for 15-20 minutes.

Serve with generously buttered crunchy toast.

The seafood in these recipes was supplied by Princess Charlotte Seafoods on (07) 3256 9175 or check the Brisbane Farmers Market website.

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