It's week four of my online cooking class, Surf & Turf at Cheeseslave. This week, Ann Marie taught us how to pick fresh seafood and we learned several recipes for uncooked seafood dishes, like ceviche and sashimi. She also showed us a great way to shuck raw oysters.
Oysters are extremely good for our health and are listed in The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth. According to author Johnny Bowden, a 1 cup serving of oysters supplies more than 100 percent of the recommended daily value of Zinc. Zinc is important to healthy immune function and fertility, among other things. Oysters are also a mood elevator as they are rich in the amino acid tyrosine, which the brain converts to dopamine. Before dealing with raw oysters at home, make sure you read up about how to buy and store fresh shellfish. Raw oysters are safe to eat, if handled properly.
A few weeks ago, I ordered an oyster knife online from Golda's Kitchen, in anticipation of this lesson. Yesterday I picked up 8 small fresh oysters from the market and today I got down to business! I was pretty apprehensive about the process. Not sure if any of you have seen Bob Blumer's Glutton For Punishment? He participated in an "Oyster Shuck Off" in one episode. Let's just say there was a lot of blood. As it turns out, oyster shucking is not that hard, or that dangerous! Actually, it's incredibly easy. I made it through my eight in under 10 minutes, and had only minor difficulties with two of them. But... this post isn't about how to shuck oysters. I am certainly no expert. There are loads of videos on YouTube that can help you out. All I can tell you is to make sure you have a proper oyster knife, a sturdy wooden cutting board, a clean dish towel and a steady hand! And DON'T STRESS! And if someone tells you a butter knife will work just fine to shuck an oyster, DO NOT BELIEVE IT. You need an oyster knife. You can pick one up at most any kitchen supply or speciality shop for about $10.
I love topping my raw oysters with a squeeze of fresh lemon, a dash of Tabasco, a little bit of grated fresh horseradish or pickled shallot vinegar - but not all together! I made the Pickled Shallots during week three of the Preserve the Bounty Challenge. French Food at Home does a pickled shallot on fresh oysters. My favourite seafood restaurant, Rodney's Oyster House also serves their fresh oysters on the half shell with a pickled shallot vinegar. It's delicious! Pickled shallots are also a great condiment for many other things, like salads, sandwiches, antipasti platters, meat and poultry!
Pickled Shallot Vinegar
2 large shallots
1 1/2 cups red wine vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 sprig fresh thyme
1. Peel shallots and slice thinly.
2. In a medium saucepan, mix together vinegar, sugar and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring often to dissolve sugar. Add shallots and stir.
3. Bring to a simmer and cook for one minute. Add thyme sprig. Remove from heat and let cool at room temperature.
4. Transfer mixture to a glass canning jar. Cover and refrigerate for at least one week before using. Can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two months.
Alternatively - if you want to heat process your canned shallots for shelf stable storage, complete the directions up to step 3, but do not let the mixture cool. Pack shallots into cleaned and sanitized jars with a small sprig of thyme. Fill with hot vinegar mixture to 1/2 inch below the rim. Cap your jars and process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes.