Fresh Oysters on their shells, as simple as could be
Yes I know. Not everyone likes them or can be persuaded to try them. But think, what a memorable party it’s going to be! Check with your guests first (they’re quite expensive at £1-£2 per oyster) and throw a packet of crisps at the ones who just won’t try delicious, sustainable, chic, British seafood. There are people who are allergic as well, and we can’t blame them for that. Crisps for them too.
You’re lucky if you live near a fishmonger who sells them on ice, maybe tell them of your plans and order in advance. You can also get them online, fresh from Cornwall or Essex. Native oysters and farmed ones spawn at different times, so you can get them most of the year.
Serves 6 (three each) Timings: about an hour, but it's all prep, no cooking involved
Slice the shallots and start them pickling. Get some wide flat bowls ready.
Open the oysters. You need a firm flat blade, like the widest flat screwdriver you can find, or a short heavy bladed knife. Wrap one hand in a teatowel and hold the oyster – this gives you a better grip and protects your hand from inadvertent stabs. With your knife hand, gently get the tip under the top shell of the oyster near the hinge – you can generally see where the top shell sits inside the lower shell, and twist slightly, moving the knife from side to side and then round the whole shell. You will need to cut the attachment on the top shell. Leave the oyster in its juices on ice and move on to the next. You will get quicker as you go along.
Once you’ve taken the top shells off all of them, go back and loosen the oysters from their bottom shells.
To Serve: Arrange three oysters per plate on ice. Add a slice of lemon to the side of the plate, a spoonful of shallots in vinegar to one oyster, a shake of Tabasco to another, and serve. Your guests just slide them down their throats. Or you can just make up a big iced platter of oysters and let everyone add their own flavours. Don't forget to keep the shells as garden decorations, they make a great addition to a flower bed and the birds love to turn them over to reveal whatever's taken shelter underneath.
A Hug from the Kitchen
Healthy, hearty, happy food, for good times and bad. Cheer yourself up, or spread the cheer around your family and friends.