Raw Oysters on the Halfshell with Mignonette/Lemon. (Kumamoto)
No clever titles here, oysters are one of the most basic dishes possible so lets keep the title basic too. Served with a basic sauce of mignonette and maybe a lemon squeeze raw oysters are a nice treat. I’ve always found Oysters on the half shell to be one of the coolest dishes you can eat. There is something awesome about eating them and knowing that you’re basically tasting the brine that they grew up in. It’s unique to where they came from, each oyster tastes different because of where in the world they originated, and in a sense you’re tasting that part of the planet. No other food really reflects its location the way an oyster does. Traditionally served with a mignonette or some lemon, its nice to just kick back and slurp down a couple briny ocean muscles.
It doesn’t hurt they are basically pockets of protein and omega-3’s that are ridiculously healthy for us.
When you’re buying oysters you want to make sure the hinge is all sealed and there are no gaps, if the shell is slightly open chances are the oyster is dead.
There are essentially 5 types of oysters out there, the rest is just where they were raised/farmed, but the 5 types remain the same.
- Pacific/Japanese Oysters – The most popular, they are small and sweet.
- Kumamoto Oysters – Once lumped in with the Pacific, they are now their own type, small/sweet/buttery/fruity with deeper shells. (These are my favorite)
- Atlantic Oysters – Many different types of Atlantic oysters out there but they are all brinier than their pacific counterparts. Often meatier and more metallic tasting as well.
- Eurpoean Flats – Briney, tasting slightly like seaweed, meaty and buttery taste.
- Olympia Oysters – Tiny oysters with a sweet metallic taste, they are not very common as their population seems to be dwindling.
Before we get to the oyster shucking I just wanted to throw out a recipe for a basic mignonette. Oysters are traditionally served with either lemon or a mignonette. I don’t care if you prefer cocktail sauce, or buffalo sauce, or ranch dressing…eat it how you want to eat it, but for the traditionalists out there, here is a basic mignonette.
- 1 Tablespoon Minced Shallot (or sweet onions)
- 1/2 cup wine vinegar (red or white, I prefer red)
- 1/2 tablespoon pepper (white or black, I prefer black)
- Salt to taste
Seriously thats it, its basically a vinegar with a dab of sweet onion and pepper. Mix up those ingredients and serve in a little dipping bowl.
Lets take a minute and talk about shucking safety. The knife isnt “sharp” so you wont be slicing yourself but its very easy to push into the hinge trying to get it to pop open, slip, and jab yourself really hard in the hand causing a deep wound. If you have them, use some gloves, if you don’t be careful.
Want to know how I know this?
Yea…first time I tried I jabbed myself in the hand pretty hard and bled everywhere so don’t be a idiot like me, be more careful.
Now that all that is out of the way, lets get to the fun.
First things first get your oysters together. You’re going to want to rinse them off good and if you can use a sponge or brush to scrub them a bit. Get any built up seaweed or ocean funk off the shell if you can.
I made these quick GIF’s to demonstrate how to shuck an oyster (or at least how ive learned to shuck oysters up until this point)
***Warning*** Do not use a blade that wasn’t designed for shucking, they aren’t expensive just get one. Using a kitchen knife can cause serious harm if you slip.
You’re going to want to take your shucking blade, follow the crease of the shell and find the hinge, once you’ve found the hinge safely start prying and poking to get that thing to pop up. Once you’ve gotten it to open a bit, slide your blade around to separate the rest of the shell and try to cut/separate the muscle holding the shell together.
There are some oysters that are just straight up stubborn and dont give you anywhere to make a foothold to start prying the shells apart. For these I use this technique***WARNING***I am by no means a master shucker, there might be some old grizzled fisherman out there reading this post shaking his head at how stupid this is but its worked for me when I can’t figure out an oyster so I’m just going to share it.
Essentially what I do is I put the blade onto the hinge where it “should” be able to get a foothold and I do a screwing motion, like turning a screwdriver back and forth, with a light amount of pressure. Don’t go crazy and put a ton of force into it, slip, and stab yourself…safety first. You’ll be able to see hinge start to crumble and a spot for you to get a foothold on the shell will form allowing you to pop it open.
Yes I’m aware its not the ideal way to do it, no I’m not recommending people do it on all their oysters, but if you run into one that’s being a b!tch…go for it.
Now then, lets fancy this sh!t up. We got a Margaritaville blender for our wedding (which we love) that we use to shave ice, but I don’t expect anyone to run out and get one for the sake of oyster ice. Just showing what I do, the crushed-ice setting on your fridge, or a hammer and some ziplock bags will do fine.
Lay your ice out on a pie tray or something like it. That fluffy ice is just beckoning for some shells.
Go ahead and arrange your oysters, give them a firm press so they sink into the ice alittle making sure they are chilled.
Put some sauce in the middle, mignonette usually, make some lemon available, and serve.
Simple and classy, a fresh oyster is a nice treat.