Aphrodisiacs for Valentine’s Day, Day 5: Oysters!!

Oysters Three Ways

Raw Oysters On The Half Shell

Kaki Fry (oysters fried Japanese-style)

Oyster Stew

Oysters are in the mollusk family. They are a saltwater species. It has been a myth since Greek times times. They were considered an aphrodisiac for how they resembled a certain area of the female human, and because they could change their sex from male to female and back. Thus giving the belief that oysters understand what it is to be both female and male. Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, sprang out of the sea on an oyster shell and gave birth to Eros in that moment, thus eventually creating the word aphrodisiac. Roman emperors paid for them by their weight in gold. They produce pearls. Oyster has high zinc content; good for helping the body utilize reproductive hormones in women. Last but certainly not least, scientists have found oysters are rich in rare amino acids that trigger increased levels of sex hormones.

A Few Types of Oysters

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Kumamoto Oysters

Small, sweet and somewhat nutty. Cultivated in Japan and the west Coast of the States.

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Pacific Oysters

Also small and sweet and the worlds most cultivated.

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Atlantic Oysters (Blueprints, Wellfleets, Malpeques, Beausoleils)

Flavors of these oysters can range from clean, salty and briny to bracing and tannic. They are cultivated up and down the East coast of the States.

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European Flats

Lovely seaweed and sharp mineral taste and meaty texture.  Cultivated in places like Brittany in France and Maine or Washington in the States.

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Olympia Oysters

Sweet, coppery, metallic tastes. Very large oysters once close to extinction. Mainly from the Puget Sound and British Columbia region.

Here is a trio of recipes for those delectable treats, enjoy!

Tip

Oysters that are alive and most likely safe to eat have a tightly closed shell and have been stored on ice. If the oyster is slightly open, do not use. It means the oyster is dead and should not be eaten. Go to a reputable shop to buy your oysters. Also, when opening an oyster, use an oyster knife with care. Place the oyster on a towel and grip the oyster with the towel so it does not slip while you pry the top off. Find a spot to get under the top shell and pry it off. A good spot to look for an ‘in’ could be opposite from the ‘hinge’ side of the shell, the mouth of the shell. And it wouldn’t hurt to wear medical gloves, they are thin but can grip better and your hands will stay clean. Be careful and have fun!

Oysters Three Ways

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 Raw Oysters On The Half Shell

12-24 oysters (any fresh ones will do)

Crushed ice (enough to fill the serving bowl or tray ¾ full)

Sea salt (enough to sprinkle over the ice)

In separate ramekins:

6 Lemon wedges

2 Tbls capers

Tabasco to taste

2 Tbls finely chopped shallots

fresh seaweed for garnishing the serving bowl or tray

Mignonette Sauce recipe

1/4c red wine vinegar

1Tbls truffle oil

2Tbls finely chopped shallots

A couple pinches of sea salt

2tsp finely crushed black pepper

Combine ingredients and put in a small ramekin dish for serving.

The lemon, capers and Tabasco can be an alternative topping. Arrange all ramekins on a tray for serving.

Gently pack ice into serving bowl or tray, forming a flat bed. Sprinkle with sea salt and scatter seaweed over the ice. Open all oysters and arrange them over the seaweed.  Top oysters to taste and enjoy!

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Kaki Fry (Japanese Fried Oysters) with homemade citrus sea salt

6-12 oysters of your choice

4-5 eggs, lightly beaten

1c flour

2c course panko crumbs

Vegetable oil for frying

1-2 lemon wedges

1c shredded cabbage

Citrus Sea Salt

1/4c course sea salt, white

1Tbls Japanese yuzu zest (Japanese lemon) or lemon zest

Preheat oven to 220F

Thoroughly combine ingredients together, no clumps. Spread on a parchment lined baking sheet or sil-pad if you have one. Bake for 70-75 minutes, until the citrus zest is dried out and crumbles easily. Pulse in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle.

Method For Oysters

Take a medium sized saucepan and fill it ¾ full of vegetable frying oil. Put it on high heat. Test the oil’s heat by gently sprinkling four on the oil. If it sizzles and jumps right away, the oil is ready. Turn the heat down to medium high or medium so the oil does not burn. Take a plate and put paper towels on it, set it aside.

Place flour, beaten egg and panko crumbs in 3 separate bowls. Open the oysters and very gently dab excess liquid from oyster. Dredge oyster through the flour, coating it entirely. Next coat it with the beaten egg and lastly place oyster in the panko crumbs and gently but firmly press the panko crumbs onto the oyster, completely coating the oyster. Follow with all the oysters.

Gently place a few oysters at a time (wait a minute in between batches for the oil to heat up again) in the oil and fry until panko starts to golden. Take plate with paper towels on it and gently place fried oysters on it to drain excess oil. Follow with all oysters.

To plate, set out tiny condiment plates out for the number of people and put the citrus infused sea salt on each plate. Take a serving platter and arrange the shredded cabbage, lemon wedges and friend oysters.  Lightly dip oysters in the salt as you eat and Enjoy!

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Oyster Stew

Makes 6-8 servings

1c butter

2c minced shallots

2 stalks of leek, quartered and medium diced

4-6 medium red potatoes, small diced

2qt half and half cream

48 ounces of fresh oysters (Whole Foods has good jarred fresh oysters)

sea salt and  ground black pepper to taste

2 dashes nutmeg

1tsp cayenne pepper

1/4c chopped scallion

Toasted French baguette

Slice baguette lengthwise and brush with olive oil or butter and a pinch of sea salt, toast in oven at 375F for 5-10 minutes or until desired crispness.

 Method for stew

Melt the butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. Brown the potato, leeks and shallots until the shallots are translucent and the leeks tender.

Pour cream into pot and stir constantly until almost at a boil. At this point, pour the oysters and all the liquid into the pot. Season with the salt, pepper and cayenne. Stir very frequently until the oysters curl at the ends and the potatoes are tender. Remove from heat and serve.

Garnish with the toasted baguette and chopped scallion (and maybe even a little of that truffle oil…) Enjoy!

photos courtesy of Getty Images

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2 thoughts on “Aphrodisiacs for Valentine’s Day, Day 5: Oysters!!

  1. Vinny Grette February 5, 2013 at 7:36 pm Reply

    I love my oysters broiled with herbs and lemon etc. I only ate a raw one, once. It was ok… don’t like the texture i guess 🙂

  2. The Foodies February 6, 2013 at 2:39 pm Reply

    A very good idea for Valentine’s Day!!!

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