I’ll be absolutely honest here, one of the things that got me straight away with Cybele was a mutual adoration for oysters. I’ve been a fiend for the things since I was about 6.
Very early in our relationship, the beautiful girl taught me how to shuck an oyster. Try saying that ten times really fast… Now, as with most methodologies there are those who say that theirs is the only way to do it ‘right’, those who say you should use a tap to endlessly run water over (what a waster). I like to keep the natural oyster juice in the shell when serving them.
How to shuck oysters
I found this straight forward, but completely dry British video here, which shows you how to do it, but may just put you to sleep in 45 seconds… and that’s a shucking big OYSTER.
So, how did I learn to shuck like crazy? My first Christmas with Cybele, we bought a lovely bag of 7 dozen unshucked Port Stephens (my favourite ones) Sydney rock oysters from the fish markets. We’d decided to do the family Christmas thing in the morning and spend the afternoon with some friends, some champagne and lots of oysters. To prep for this, someone had to shuck the oysters. Cybele showed me how it’s done, handed me the knife and said, ‘Now, it’s time for you to practice’. I shucked.
So, coming back to the point of this post, Oysters 3 simple ways. To begin with you’ll also have to choose (in Australia at least) between Sydney Rocks or Pacifics. The Sydney Rocks win every time in this house when they’re in season. And before you start playing around with Oysters, it’s highly recommended and almost sacrilegious to not have them au natural to start with. Now, by this I mean with a squeeze of lemon and a grind of pepper. If you’re Cybele and me, a small sprinkle of rock salt doesn’t go astray either.
Thai Style Sauce – prep 2 hours before using 2 limes juiced 2 tbs fish sauce 2 tbs of palm sugar (brown sugar if you don’t have palm sugar) 1 large red chili finely diced 1.5 tbl spn of super finely julienned ginger 1/4cup finely diced coriander/cilantro leaves
Method Mix the lime juice, fish sauce and dissolve the palm sugar with thorough stirring. Mix in the diced chili and ginger and then the coriander. Taste for spiciness and if it needs a tad more, try half a birdseye for a bit more kick. Leave for at least 2 hours before serving (allows the flavours to settle properly)
Traditional Red Wine Vinaigrette
You can use either french shallots or diced spanish onion for this one. I prefer the french shallots, but hey, each to their own.
2 French Shallots – super finely diced 1/4 cup champagne vinegar 2 tbl spn red wine vinegar 1 pinch rock salt 1 pinch finely ground white pepper
Mix all your ingredients together and then cover and place in the fridge for at least 4 hours before use (takes the edge of the shallots) and up to 1-2 days if possible.
Did you know that the oyster is one of the most sustainable types of seafood that you can wrap your lips around? Unlike some farmed fish, oysters minimally impact marine resources as they don’t rely on wild-caught fish – in the form of fishmeal or fish oil – for food. And, thanks to the oyster’s filter-feeding action, oyster farms keep a close watch on pollution levels in the surrounding coastal waters. Here are David Suzuki’s thoughts on the tasty little suckers.
Ahem, did someone say ‘aphrodisiac’? No. I must be hearing things. Right, where was I? That’s right. I was in the middle of telling you that you’ll be shucking like crazy too in no time at all. Enjoy!
Gordon Eckel, a foodie and (rock) wall climber extraordinaire. He worked in some of Sydney’s top restaurants, but decided that he liked cooking for his friends more, so ran away and joined the circus (aka managing Sydney nightclubs). Six years ago and after a few too many creamy pastas he weighed 105 kg with a ridiculously high cholesterol. He changed his eating ways, wore out a treadmill and dropped 25 kilos in three months. Now he is renown for cooking deceptively healthy food and for proselytizing about the marvels of the great Australian red.