There is something sexy about eating oysters. This edible mollusc has been consumed by kings, queens, emperors and gods for hundreds of years.
However, in our modern day, maybe it is just the satisfaction of seeing fellow diners squirm while you gulp them down, or the feeling of playing Russian roulette with the rare chance that you may eat a “bad” oyster.
The traditional way to eat oysters is when they are served on a bed of crushed ice, garnished with a side order of shallot vinegar, ground pepper, lemon wedges and Tabasco sauce.
Using a fork, loosen the flesh of the oyster from the shell then throw it back.
Any following oysters can be loosed using the shell from your first oyster. This is nice way to achieve the natural, finger food feel which our ancestors probably used in times gone by.
If you are an oyster virgin and are not too enthusiastic about swallowing a fleshy, raw shellfish which has dredged the bottom of sea, then here are a few options which you might find easier to swallow. An oyster shot. A raw oyster in a shot glass, topped up with a shot of Bloody Mary – vodka, tomato juice, pepper, salt, Worcestershire sauce and lemon juice.
If you are still not convinced about eating your oysters raw, then why not try them grilled. A nice combination is oysters with spinach and Hollandaise sauce. Again, served with lots of ground pepper and a wedge of lemon.
A very popular dish is “angels on horseback”. The oysters are wrapped in strips of bacon and grilled. They can be served as a canape with a cocktail stick or on toast. Another creative combination is serving them on a bed of steamed samphire grass – a delicate, aromatic seaweed.
A word of warning. Do not consume gin or red wine when eating oysters. There are natural toxins and bacteria in an oyster, and when mixed with the chemicals in gin or red wine, have the potential to make you very ill. A good seafood restaurant will probably show a disclaimer on their menu to highlight this, or their staff will be trained to inform customers when they order.
You should not consume oysters if you are pregnant, suffer from liver disease or have a low immune system. Again this is due to the high levels of bacteria present within the oyster.
Never, ever, eat an oyster which is not fully opened. Always go to a well-reputed seafood restaurant if you want the reassurance that your oysters are fresh from a quality supplier. The chef will also have carried out stringent procedures with regard to their storage, preparation and cooking standards.
Do not let what I have said deter you from eating oysters. They are renowned for being exceptionally nutritious and a very powerful aphrodisiac.
Eat an oyster and experience the pleasure of feeling you are eating straight from the sea. So next time you are dining out – give it a try. The world is your oyster.