Oysters Three Ways

This is something most people wouldn’t think of doing at home, but each element is easy and very quick to prepare. Organise all ingredients & kit in advance, and get stuck in!

I nicked the idea from Paul Ainsworth who prepared something similar on BBC’s Yes Chef, but I’ve added raw oysters, plus crispy seaweed, bacon, and an oyster emulsion.

Serves: 2 (2 of each oyster type for each person)

Ingredients
For the oysters:

  • 12 oysters in the shell
  • Ice (enough to 3/4 fill a medium bowl)
  • Salt

For the oyster emulsion:

  • 50g shallots
  • 100ml dry white wine
  • 4 shucked oysters (approx 65g) – save the nicest-looking ones for raw
  • 75ml vegetable oil (about 6 tablespoons)
  • A small handful of fresh chervil leaves (no stalks)

For the apple and fennel salad:

  • 2 tablespoons white caster sugar
  • 2 limes: finely grated zest of one, and juice of both
  • 1 medium fennel bulb
  • 1 medium green eating apple (Granny Smith is perfect)
  • A handful of fresh chervil leaves (no stalks)

For the crispy seaweed:

  • 4 thin slices unsmoked back bacon
  • A knob of unsalted butter + 1 tablespoon veg oil
  • 1 Savoy cabbage, the outer 5-6 greenest leaves only
  • Another knob of unsalted butter + 6 tablespoons veg oil
  • 1 red chilli, finely diced (save some for raw oyster garnish)
  • 2 tablespoons Szechuan pepper
  • Ground sea salt, to taste

For the fried oysters:

  • 200ml veg oil
  • 4 shucked oysters – save the nicest-looking ones for raw
  • 2 large eggs, separated whites only
  • 100g crushed panko breadcrumbs (or other very dry, fine breadcrumbs)

For the raw oysters:

  • 4 shucked oysters
  • Finely diced red chilli (from seaweed ingredients)
  • 1 lime, sliced into wedges (for serving)

Kit

  • A scrub brush for oyster shells
  • An oyster knife
  • A heavy tea towel (or two) to protect hand whilst shucking
  • 2 medium mixing bowls
  • 3 small bowls
  • A sieve
  • 2 small saucepans
  • A blender
  • A citrus fruit juicer
  • A fine grater
  • A vegetable peeler
  • A chopping board and sharp knife
  • 1 large (eg. dessert) spoon
  • A large, deep frying pan (or wok)
  • A large slotted spoon
  • 3 oven-safe plates
  • Kitchen paper to line 3 plates, plus lots extra for patting oysters dry
  • 2 plates, to serve

Steps
Shucking the oysters:

  1. Check that all oysters are closed and smell only of brine. Scrub the closed oyster shells in cold running water to clean.
  2. To learn how to shuck oysters, these two YouTube videos are great tutorials: this one is slower and more in-depth, and this one shows two types of oysters.
  3. Put the oysters as you shuck them into a medium bowl of cold, salted water.
  4. Pour the oysters through a sieve, then rinse the oysters thoroughly in the sieve. Put ice in the bowl, nestle the sieve on the ice, and put aside.
  5. Set aside the 4 nicest shells for serving. Scrape to remove the abductor muscle and rinse again.

Making the oyster emulsion:

  1. Peel and finely slice the shallots, and put them with the wine in a small saucepan. Boil until the wine has fully reduced, then set aside to cool.
  2. Once cooled, put the shallots in a blender with 4 shucked oysters and blitz until smooth. Pour the oil in slowly, continuing to blend until it’s a mayonnaise-like consistency.
  3. Add some ripped-up chervil leaves, and continue blending until they’re fully combined.
  4. Pour the emulsion into a small bowl and chill until ready to serve.

Making the apple and fennel salad:

  1. See my separate recipe and follow those instructions. Chill the salad until ready to serve.

Making the crispy seaweed:

  1. Pre-heat oven to the lowest setting.
  2. Chop the bacon into very small bits, and fry in butter and oil until really crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate covered with kitchen paper, and place in the oven to keep warm.
  3. See my separate recipe for crispy seaweed and follow those instructions, frying with additional butter/oil in the same pan the bacon was cooked in. Place the plate in the oven to keep warm.

Making the fried oysters:

  1. Add the additional oil to the frying pan/wok, and heat until very hot (should be 180 C or so).
  2. Separate the eggs and whisk up the whites lightly in a small bowl. Put the breadcrumbs in another small bowl.
  3. Pat dry 4 oysters from the sieve, coat in the egg white, then roll in the breadcrumbs ensuring each is fully coated.
  4. Flash-fry 2 at a time for 3 seconds – you should just about have time to flip them. The breadcrumbs will turn golden almost immediately. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and place on a plate covered with kitchen paper.

Assembling:

  1. Take half the seaweed and place a mound on each plate, and lay 2 of the 4 reserved oyster shells on each mound. Take the remaining 4 shucked oysters from the sieve, pat dry, and place in the shells; spoon a few drops of salad syrup on each. Sprinkle some chopped chilli bits, the bittiest bits of bacon, and some salt on top.
  2. Toss the rest of the bacon with the remaining seaweed, and put 1/2 on each plate. Lay 2 fried oysters on each mound.
  3. Drain the apple & fennel salad, and place 1/2 on each plate (using a ring makes it look ‘cheffy’).
  4. Spoon the oyster emulsion in a swirl between the seaweed mounds, and scatter finely chopped chervil over each plate for serving. Add a lime wedge on the side of each plate.

Attributions
I picked up the idea for oyster emulsion from The Great British Chefs, but scaled down the amounts and added chervil to complement the salad.

Dealing with Leftover Frying Oil
I’ve held back from doing any deep-frying – like Mary Berry, I also don’t have a deep-fat fryer / chip pan – because I wondered what to do with the oil afterward. This site has an amazing tip for cleaning fry oil for re-use (hint: powdered gelatine). I tried it, and it totally works.

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