Oysters are ancient. Prehistoric. Positively primal. We’ve enjoyed them at top-end restaurants, in the backyard on Christmas Day and by the river with our toes in the water. Now we can enjoy them straight from the farm to our front door – and with that, opens up a whole new level of excitement over how to chow down on our favourite seafood. We’ve collected our favourite lockdown recipes for you for all the stages – from fancy date night to oldie-but-goodie to kids included and something experimental! Shuck away, oyster lovers!
The Classic with a healthy twist – Oysters Rockefeller
Invented at Antoine’s in New Orleans in 1889, oysters Rockefeller was named for John D. Rockefeller, one of the richest Americans at the time, for its rich sauce. Antoine’s has kept the original recipe secret, but basically it includes a cream sauce with spinach and other greens, flavored with Pernod or anisette. This version omits the cream sauce but is still full of flavor. Source: EatingWell Magazine
Shuck oysters, discarding the flat top shells. Pour the oyster meat and the liquid left in each bottom shell (the oyster “liquor”) into a bowl. Then pour through a fine-mesh sieve, transfer the liquid and the oyster meat to separate containers and refrigerate until ready to cook. Rinse the deep bottom shells to remove any grit and set aside.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add spinach, watercress (or additional spinach) and celery leaves (or parsley) and cook just until wilted, about 30 seconds. Drain and rinse thoroughly with cold water to stop the cooking and set the bright green color. Squeeze out excess water. Chop the greens very finely.
Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped greens and scallions and cook, stirring, until the scallions are soft and any liquid has evaporated, about 2 minutes. Add the strained oyster liquor, Pernod (or other licorice liqueur), lemon juice and hot sauce and cook, stirring, until the liquid is mostly absorbed, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a shallow baking pan or a baking sheet with about 1/2 inch of rock salt (or coarse salt) or loosely crumpled foil to make a base for the oyster shells.
Nestle each reserved shell in the prepared base so it will stay level. Place one oyster in each shell, evenly divide the green sauce among the oysters and sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake until the sauce is bubbly and the cheese is lightly browned, 8 to 12 minutes.
The French Twist – Oysters au Gratin with Spinach & Breadcrumbs
These succulent baked oysters thrill with spicy spinach and a crispy cheese topping. Source: EatingWell Magazine
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with rock salt or balls of foil to cradle the oysters.
2. To shuck oysters, place flat-side up and grip with a towel or gloved hand, leaving the hinged end exposed. Push the tip of an oyster knife between the top and bottom shells just adjacent to the hinge. Twist the knife until the top shell releases. (Keep the oyster level so the briny liquor stays inside the bottom shell.) Gently slide the knife along the inside of the upper shell, disconnecting the oyster from the shell; discard the top shells. Arrange the shucked oysters in their bottom shells on the prepared pan.
3. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add spinach and cook until wilted, about 1 minute. Transfer to a colander and press to remove excess water, then transfer to a clean cutting board and finely chop.
4. Add butter and garlic to the pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until soft and fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the spinach and jalapeño; stir to coat. Remove from heat.
5. Combine Parmesan, panko and ground pepper in a small bowl. Spread a heaping teaspoon of the spinach mixture over each oyster. Sprinkle with about 1 teaspoon of the Parmesan mixture.
6. Bake until the oysters are cooked and the tops are golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes. If desired, turn on the broiler for the last 2 minutes to brown the tops. Serve with lemon wedges.
The Seasonal Pick – Grilled oysters with chorizo vinaigrette
While they’re often considered a summer delicacy, oysters are actually at their best in autumn. They’re also easier to handle once cooked, because the shells open in the heat meaning you don’t have to wrestle with an oyster knife. Cooler weather calls for oysters flash-cooked on smoky wood-fired grills, baked in ovens or gently poached; served plumped-up in their own briny juices. From Good Food.
2 tbsp olive oil
2 fresh chorizo sausages
1-2 tbsp sherry or red wine vinegar
12 large, fresh, unopened oysters
1 lemon, cut into wedges
1. To make the vinaigrette, heat one teaspoon of olive oil in a non-stick pan. Skin the sausages and pinch the sausage meat into the pan. Fry for five minutes until crumbled and lightly golden. Remove from the heat, and add the remaining olive oil and vinegar. Gently toss, and transfer to a serving bowl.
2. Heat the barbecue to hot. Place the oysters on the grill and watch carefully for one minute, removing each one as soon as the top shell opens. If they haven’t opened after 1 1/2 minutes, remove and open with an oyster knife. Lift the flat top shell and use a small sharp knife to cut through the muscle attached to the oyster.
3. Top with the warm chorizo vinaigrette, add a wedge of lemon and serve hot.
4. Serve on a bed of rock salt, seaweed or pebbles, to keep the oyster shells upright.
The ‘Feeling Fancy’ Date night – Poached Oysters with cucumber and white wine cream
If you are creating the ultimate dinner party for two menu, try this delicious recipe idea from Luke Mangan.
1/2 continental cucumber.
1 heaped tsp fresh tarragon, finely chopped.
10 fresh oysters.
100ml dry white wine.
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Peel the cucumber, cut in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds with a spoon. Using a sharp knife, cut it into long, thin spaghetti-like strips. Place a small mound in the middle of two serving bowls and sprinkle with tarragon. Remove the oysters from the half-shell and place in a shallow pan. Pour in the wine and bring to the boil. Just as the wine starts bubbling, quickly remove the oysters with a slotted spoon, placing five in each bowl around the cucumber. Leave the wine on the heat bubbling away until it has reduced by half. Add the cream and bring to the boil. Remove from heat, season to taste, and use a hand-held blender to whiz the sauce until it becomes light and frothy (about 15 seconds). Spoon the creamy sauce over the oysters and cucumber. Serve warm.
The ‘Even the Kids will love it’ – Deep-fried Pacific oysters with sweet Thai dipping sauce
A family-friendly easy recipe for a fun mid-week snack! From Good Food.
24 Pacific oysters or any other large oyster on the shell
30 g (1 oz/¼ cup) plain (allpurpose) flour
1 egg, mixed with 3 teaspoons cold water
60 g (2¼ oz/1 cup) panko (Japanese breadcrumbs) or dry packaged breadcrumbs vegetable oil, for deep-frying
Sweet thai dipping sauce
4 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2½ tablespoons caster (superfine) sugar
1 slice fresh ginger
1 Lebanese (short) cucumber, seeded and finely diced
1 small red chilli, seeded and sliced
1 tablespoon chopped coriander (cilantro) leaves
1. Remove the oysters from their shells and lightly coat in the flour. Wash the shells, removing any grit from them, then dry well and set aside for later. Coat the oysters in the egg mixture and then the panko, pressing on firmly. Arrange the oysters on a plate, cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
2. To make the dipping sauce, put the vinegar, sugar and ginger in a small saucepan and heat to dissolve the sugar. Bring to the boil, then remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Discard the ginger and stir in the cucumber, chilli and coriander.
3. Fill a wok onethird full of oil to 180°C (350°F), or until a cube of bread dropped in the oil browns in 15 seconds. Deep-Fry the oysters in batches for 1 minute, or until golden brown. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and drain on crumpled paper towels. Put the oysters back in the shells and drizzle with the dipping sauce or, if you prefer, serve the sauce in a bowl on the side.
The ‘I’m-feeling-adventurous’ Oyster – Tea-smoked oyster salsa
When Jeremy Strode celebrated 10 years’ living in Australia, he held a dinner at Langton’s Restaurant and Wine Bar in Melbourne. Each of the chefs was a past or current colleague of his in the kitchen. I prepared the second course – a raw, a steamed and a smoked oyster for each diner. It was a truly memorable night. Here’s the recipe for the smoked oyster – Jade Strode
1/4 cup jasmine rice
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup jasmine tea
12 oysters, rinsed to remove grit*
1/2 avocado, finely diced
1/2 small cucumber, seeds removed, finely diced
1/2 bunch chives, finely sliced
Freshly ground white pepper
1 tbsp lemon, juiced
* This is the only time I would suggest washing seafood with water as it removes the flavour – but grit will be stuck to the oyster once it is smoked.
Line the bottom of a wok with a double layer of foil, leaving plenty of foil to the sides. Fold the excess foil over to create a “bowl” in the base of the wok. The “bowl” should be about 15cm in diameter on a regular-sized wok. Mix the rice, sugar and tea and place on the foil to an even thickness, about 1cm. Take a wok steaming rack and sit it above the smoking mix. Put oysters on rack.
Place over a high heat and, once smoke starts to billow, cover with a domed lid or another wok turned upside down. Smoke on high heat for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow it to sit for 5 minutes before removing the lid. Make sure the extractor fan is on or the windows are open. Once cool enough, remove oysters and chop roughly.
Place in a bowl with avocado, cucumber and chives. Season well with salt, pepper, lemon juice and olive oil.
Stir gently and serve on Chinese spoons or in washed-and-dried oyster shells.
The ‘I don’t feel like shucking’ Recipe – BBQed oysters with lime finger mignonette
Throw an … oyster on the barbie? Don’t knock it ’til you try it. Finger limes are one of our favourite native ingredients – their tiny little pearls pop and burst on the tongue with refreshing acidity, and they’re a natural pairing for oysters, whether they’re cooked briefly on the barbie as we’ve done here, or served natural. By Gourmet Traveller.
- 18 unshucked oysters
- Thinly sliced spring onion and finger lime, to serve
- 70 ml vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 2 spring onions, thinly sliced
- 1 tsp finely grated ginger
- 3 finger limes, pearls squeezed out
For finger-lime mignonette, combine ingredients in a bowl and season to taste
Heat a barbecue to high heat. Place oysters on the grill and cook until the shells pop open. Remove lids, loosen the oysters from the shells with a sharp knife, spoon mignonette on top, scatter with extra spring onion and finger lime and serve.