Oysters are an internationally enjoyed delicacy that can either be prepared raw or cooked. As most students in an online culinary program will know, the versatility of oysters is unmatched and they can be used in soups, as an appetizer or in dozens of entrees – the sky is the limit with this wonderful gift from the sea.
From the boroughs of Colchester in Essex, England, to the breezy resort of Cancale in Northwestern France, oysters are brought to the kitchens of high-end restaurants and domestic homes alike. In America, the oyster beds of New York attract hundreds of thousands of patrons every year.
Initially eaten by the working class citizens of Europe and the U.S., oysters gained popularity in the middle of the 19th century and were in high demand, causing market prices to rise.
Oyster stew – This thick and creamy stew is great with a batch of homemade bread or over airy pastry shells. First, simmer 1 cup of oyster liquor and 1 cup of water in a large sauce pan. Add about 30 large oysters and cook until the edges begin to curl upward. Strain the oysters and then set them aside. Heat 12 tablespoons of unsalted butter in a large pot, gradually whisking in 5 tablespoons of flour until the mixture has thickened. Add 1/2 cup of parsley, 4 cloves of finely chopped garlic, and 1 tablespoon of cayenne, salt and pepper each. Stir frequently.
Oyster Rockefeller – This world-renowned style of baked oyster was named in honor of John D. Rockefeller because of its very rich taste. It was in Antoine’s Restaurant that Jules Aciatore, the son of founder Antoine, developed the recipe in 1899 in New Orleans. Take half shells of oysters and top with a number of pureed green vegetables, cayenne, salt and pepper. Add bread crumbs as another layer of toppings and bake.
One of the purest ways to eat oysters is without any sort of preparation. This should be done with care. Oysters that are brought to shore with their shells open are considered to be dead and therefore unsafe to eat. Different regions produce different flavors and textures of oysters, bringing a complex combination of sweetness, saltiness and earthiness. Oysters are often served with a homemade Mignonette sauce, cocktail sauce or, more simply, with plain lemon juice and vinegar.