Given that oysters were once the food of the poor, it's hard to believe that they are now perceived to be a luxury, as they are relatively cheap to buy. They’re full of lots of healthy stuff too and so tasty. I was told that Edinburgh’s Royal Mile is built on oyster shells, as in days gone by there were oyster sellers on every street corner and the discarded shells were tossed away. I love a freshly-shucked oyster, simple and clean. I try to persuade doubters to try them by describing the taste as that intense, refreshing feeling you get when you jump into the sea for the first time on holiday. Cooked, they are equally delicious!
Images: Paul Johnston, Copper Mango
Allow 4 to 6 oysters per person
1 tablespoon of plain flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
1 egg, beaten with a splash of milk
1 handful of breadcrumbs or Panko breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons cold-pressed rapeseed oil for shallow frying
1 shallot, peeled and finely chopped
1 hard-boiled egg, white and yolk chopped separately
1 tablespoon of cornichons and capers, chopped
1 tablespoon of chopped parsley and tarragon
4 tablespoons of mayonnaise
A few fennel fronds for garnish
A squeeze of lemon juice
Some course sea salt, mixed with a little water, to place the oysters on
Be very careful not to puncture the oyster flesh when removing them from their shells. Ask your fishmonger to do this for you if you prefer, but make sure you keep the shells.
Roll each oyster through the flour, then the egg wash, then breadcrumbs and set to one side.
Clean the oyster shells for serving.
To make the sauce gribiche, gently mix the chopped egg and mayonnaise, then add the shallot, cornichons, capers, parsley and tarragon, and a splash of lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Mix together gently.
Place a frying pan on the hob and bring it to a medium heat before adding the oil. Once the oil is hot, gently cook the oysters, being careful not to burn them. Turn them often and cook for a minute or so either side. Remove the oysters from the pan and dab them with kitchen paper.
To serve, place the wet salt on to serving dish, arranging the oyster shells on top. Return the cooked oysters to the shells, placing a dod of sauce gribiche and a frond of fennel on top of each. Eat immediately.