Delicate raw, fresh-shucked oysters – People either love ‘em or can’t abide the thought. I love small oysters’ scent of ocean and their clean finish. Sometimes as a special treat I’ll order raw oysters at a restaurant, but they are so expensive and they disappear in a sec. I live on the west coast, yet it’s taken me my whole life to discover how easy it is to prepare fresh-shucked, raw oysters at home. Somehow I’d gotten it into my head that only top chefs can make raw oysters, and that only top restaurants have access to top-grade oysters. Restaurant prices vary, but after tax and tip a dozen raw oysters can easily cost $46 – and you don’t even know if they came in fresh on the day. Do it yourself for just $10!
The stars were all lined up and what could I do but give the oysters a whirl when Leslie Javorski, food writer and blogger at FoodWords.ca, offered me her recipe for Oysters with Rhubarb, Ginger & Shallot compote. I dropped in at Granville Island Market and found fresh oysters, rhubarb, and the best donuts in Vancouver. –I always visit Lee’s (freshest) Donuts when I’m at Granville Island, but that’s another story :) It was one of those perfect, sunny Vancouver days that make you believe that dark, damp-to-your bones, rainy days only exist in story books. Some days you just gotta feel grateful.
Shucking baby oysters takes a little skill and I cracked the first couple, okay five shells. My daughters would have gone to the internet for best techniques – before they started shucking – but I dug straight in with my new oyster knife and managed to plate enough fancy appetizers for my husband and me. (The oysters with imperfect shells tasted great too btw.)
Rhubarb imparts a lovely tang to the oysters. With caramelized shallot and light ginger, it’s a delicious alternative to the lemon pairing that we are more used to. Rhubarb compote is quick to make, and now that I am an expert oyster shucker, bring on the (small) dinner party!
Adapted from Leslie Javorski, food writer and blogger at FoodWords.ca
- 2 Rhubarb stalks, diced small (1 c)
- 1 tbsp minced Rhubarb (Reserve for garnish)
- 1 tbsp tiny green leaf pieces, such as Parsley or Kale leaf (for garnish)
- ½ large Shallot, minced (1/4 c)
- 1 thumbnail length of fresh ginger, grated (1 tbsp)
- 1½ tbsp Japanese Mirin (Available in the Asian section of the supermarket)
- 2 tsp White Wine
- 12 oysters, freshly shucked
- In a stainless-steel pot (rhubarb turns grey in aluminum and cast iron), add the rhubarb, shallot, ginger, mirin or sherry, and wine.
- Cook on medium-low heat until the rhubarb cooks down to a puree and the sauce is thick. Rhubarb variety will determine the final colour. Get pink rather than green rhubarb if you can. Pour onto plate and chill until cold.
- Prepare 2 serving plates by laying coarse salt or crushed ice to a fingernail’s depth.
- Place concave half of oyster shells onto the prepared plates. Compost the flat half.
- Spoon cold rhubarb compote evenly into oyster shells.
- Place oysters atop the rhubarb compote. Garnish with with a pinch of minced red rhubarb and piece of green leaf.
- Prep time is 30 minutes or less if you are quick with the oyster shucking.
YOU next year Principle
Go on, give it a whirl. Life is short!
When I wake up in the morning, and I go to the piano, and there’s a blank sheet of paper in front of me, by the end of the day, that could be a gold mine. You really do need to wake up and expect that the world is your oyster because it very well may be.
Lesley Gore, Singer/Songwriter