Friday, December 5, 2008

Oysters on a Half Shell

Whenever the weather turns and I see winter around the corner, I crave for oysters. I usually like my oysters naked, just shucked and slurp but these kumomotos I just picked up from Hog Island Oyster Company,
Buying Oysters: Never buy dead oysters, they should be alive and one sure sign is that they are tightly closed. If they are slightly open, give them a tap on the shell, if they are still alive, they will close right up. If they don't close, throw them away. Buy them from reputable fish vendors since they are perishable and need to be harvested from safe waters. It is a law that all oysters must be sold with a shellstock id tag provided by the harvester and dealer – with harvest date, dealer’s name and address, and the state or country the shellfish was harvested. The delivery date must be written on the tag upon receipt and tags must be kept a minimum of 90 days after the last shellfish has been sold. So if you ever have doubts about the origin and freshness of the oysters at you market, ask.

Storage: Fresh oysters have a shelf life of a week (I've seen some articles state that it is 2 weeks) as long as they are stored properly under 45 degrees F and out of the water. Store them with their flat side up so that their liquor does not seep out.

Serving: To serve raw oysters at home, just before eating give them a good cleaning with a scrub brush under cold running water. Make sure to clean at the hinge where the knife tip will be inserted. Don't attempt to open these without the proper tool, opening an oyster gets easier with practice and impossible with the wrong opener. Seeing is the best instruction, here's a video by Simply Ming on You Tube.

Used crushed ice, salt or seaweed as a base and a base is needed to keep the oysters from tilting over and loosing their juice. These Hog Island osyters are garnished with a sliver of pickled onions, ponzu sauce and chopped chives.

Pickled onion recipe:
thinly sliced yellow onions using a mandoline about 1/2 cup
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup sugar

Bring rice vinegar and sugar to a boil to melt the sugar.
Add thinly sliced onions and remove from heat.
Chill before using on raw oysters.

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