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Recipe: A Treat for Valentine's

February 05, 2016 at 5:12 PM

valentine_oysters.jpg

This month, with half an eye on the 14th and its celebration, I have gone for oysters served in two delicious ways. We are so fortunate in Scotland to have such a widespread oyster farming industry and the quality is incredible. The fresh, clean waters of the Atlantic provide all the nutrients an oyster needs. Just think that with all the coves and rugged shoreline with big tides going in and out, the length of that shoreline in Argyll alone is longer than France and Spain's Atlantic coast put together!

Native oysters are in season just now and a few of the farms will also harvest them, but the farmed ones are also delicious. If you have never had an oyster, now is a good time to try them. For me the best way is to have them as they are with perhaps a squeeze of lemon juice. They are quite easy to open especially if you have a little gadget, called a “clic huitre”  which you can buy online from Loch Fyne Oysters and your local fishmonger will show you how to open them.

For a romantic first course I have given you two ideas!  For those a little nervous about eating a raw oyster you can try the poached oyster with cheese and for those a bit more adventurous try the chilli and ginger salsa with coriander.

Oysters with cheese sauce

Ingredients

For about 12 oysters
A table spoon of white wine
200 mls double cream
2 tblsp grated cheese a Mull Cheddar would be perfect
Pinch smoked paprika

Method

  1. Shuck the oysters and put them and their liquor into a small pan, add the wine and poach for a few minutes, oysters take seconds to cook!
  2. Remove the oysters and set aside, reduce the liquid by half, pour in the cream and bring to a gentle simmer. Add half the cheese and seasoning, set aside.
  3. Switch the grill to high. Place your oyster shells on a metal baking sheet and put a cooked oyster back inside the shell, spoon over the cheese sauce and then sprinkle with the remaining grated cheese.
  4. Place under the grill until lightly browned and bubbling.

Oysters with salsa

For 12 oysters
1 shallot peeled and finely chopped
1 red chilli deseeded and finely chopped
2 tblsp chopped fresh coriander
1 cm piece of fresh ginger peeled and finely chopped
Tsp lemon juice
2 tsp virgin olive oil
Ground black pepper

Method

  1. Mix the first four ingredients together
  2. Shuck the oysters taking care not to lose any juice and place on a suitable plate
  3. Mix the lemon juice and oil into the mixture and lightly season with pepper
  4. Spoon a little on top of each oyster and serve

Notes

Make sure the oyster is firmly closed before “shucking”.
Once opened it's best to release the oyster from the base shell so that when you eat it,  it can just slide into your mouth.
Take care to remove any bits of broken shell with some kitchen paper, it's easy to get small bits when you shuck them.
Above all don’t just swallow in one! Give them a good chew and savour the flavours

Recipe by Christopher Trotter
Food photography by Caroline Trotter