I planned on brining a beautiful chicken I had set aside for the purpose… the brine smells fantastic…hard to describe really….it is great on chicken…when you smell the brine you can taste the finished chicken in your mind, well…at least I can…I can even imagine how the brine will play with the wood smoke from the charcoal fire I was going to light before the freak rain storm…oh bollocks! I had to grill the chicken on the cast iron grill on the stove and that is not what I want to post, I have done enough of that lately and I am over it. Therefore, the next best thing for a summer get together…Raw oysters.
I have been dying to post this for some time now. Most of the people in our house love oysters and their accompaniments which are various sauces and mignonettes ( classically a shallot and peppercorn relish so named for the mignonette sized peppercorns contained therein). Martha Stewart has some great recipes for them in her book Martha Stewart’s Hors D’oeuvres Handbook on page 396. I don’t love everything Ms. Stewart does, I can do without painting the pine cones gold; but the cookbooks have some great recipes in them. The accompaniments for oysters are particularly good and look great too.
There is a lot to tell about oysters, I learned a great deal about various types when I was a Chef for Legal Seafoods. We will have to get more into it in subsequent posts, but at least I can share a very good way to shuck them and the mignonettes that go with them. Oysters live just about anywhere there is salt water, but certain areas have developed a reputation for exceptionally good oysters. While Cindy and I were shopping, we came across some beautiful specimens from Long Island (Blue Points) and some from the Cape (Wellfleets). We had to get the Wellfleet oysters because they are very hard to find these days and while we were at it we got some Blue Points for comparison. We enjoyed the Blue Points, but WOW, the Wellfleets were everything you want in an oyster; firm flesh, briny flavor, clean and bright, not too big, not too small, just perfect. For the summer months it would be wise to buy oysters that come from cold water, in the winter all of the water around here is cold so there is not as much to worry about. Warm water can be a breeding ground for bacteria while cold water is less risky.
If you have never shucked an oyster and are concerned, I recommend you buy an oyster knife and watch this video explaining how. I won’t bother saying its so simple a child can do it because the fact is that if you try to force it you will wind up with that brand new oyster knife right in the middle of your hand. Take it easy, use finesse…use the knife to gently suggest to the oyster that it should open for you…be the oyster! We will get back to grilling tomorrow, for now enjoy the oysters.
from Martha Stewart’s Hors D’oeuvres Handbook
- ¼ cup plus 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
- 2 Tbsp dry red wine
- 4 large shallots, minced to yield ½ cup
- 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp cracked black peppercorns, plus more to taste
Stir the ingredients together. Serve after 20 minutes to allow the shallots to soften.
- 3 Tbsp sake
- ¼ cup plus 2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
- zest of 1 lime
- 2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- 3 scallions, white and pale green parts only, cut crosswise into ⅛ inch rings
- ¼ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro, plus 1 sprig for garnish
Combine the first 5 ingredients and garnish with the scallions and cilantro.
- ¼ cup dry white wine
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
- 2 tsp Tabasco sauce
- 3 large shallots, minced
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- 3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- lemon zest, for garnish
Stir together the wine, lemon juice, Tabasco, shallots and salt. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil while whisking. Garnish with the lemon zest.
Hot Sesame and Chili Sauce
- ¼ cup dark sesame oil
- ¼ cup hot chili oil
- ¼ cup sake
- ¼ cup fresh lime juice
- 2 small garlic cloves, minced
- 1½ tsp kosher salt
- dried chili pepper for garnish (optional)
Stir together all of the ingredients and garnish with the chili pepper if desired.