Are oysters better raw or cooked?
In short, there is no answer to this question. Like beauty, it is in the eye of the beholder. For what it is worth, when it is the summer, the weather is good and we have bigger Rock oysters to hand we prefer to cook them and enjoy them with a few good quality beers. A nice cold Rosé works well too.
Ah lazy sunny days, quality seafood and beer equals bliss…
What is the best way to cook oysters?
Again, what to say? There are so many great ways to cook oysters. When the sun is shining you can not go far wrong with Tempura oysters flash fried in the wok.
As an aside, if you are looking for inspiration then the book The Essential Oyster by Rowan Jacobsen has a recipe section which is a mini treasure trove and we would highly recommend it.
What do tempura cooked oysters taste like?
If you have managed to get good quality oysters and cooked them well, the batter should be nice and crispy, and the oysters should feel velvety smooth in your mouth, they should not be mushy and should still have a wee bite to them. In a word, they should be like the best ‘scampi’ you have ever eaten.
How do I cook Tempura oysters?
The great thing about Tempura oysters is that they are simple to make. Here is a Rick Stein Cookery School recipe:
Follow this along and you shall not go far wrong. A nice touch is to clean the shells and serve the oysters back in their shells.
What about those sides?
To serve we usually go for some skinny fries, a simple salad with lime juice dressing, red onion with cider vinegar and a chilli based dipping sauce for the oysters.
Old foods, new ideas
A superb tasty meal and just a fantastic way to eat oysters. Unfortunately there seems to be this idea / urban myth over here in Europe that the only way to eat oysters is raw in the shell. Raw oysters in the shell are also fantastic but they are not the only way!
It is our view that cooked oysters are just so underrated in Europe. In other parts of the world, such as North America and Australia, they know how good cooked oysters can be and that should also be the case here.
Eating them this way is also a great introduction for those who have never tried and might be put off by the thought of a raw oyster (still, a raw oyster is just sushi if you think about it! And please do chew!)
So what are you waiting for?
La Mole Hot Sauce Ltd
Just a few words on the dipping sauce we recently discovered, as this shall hopefully be of interest to the chilli lovers (like us) out there.
We are fans of a good quality chilli sauce and recently came across a small producer, La Mole Hot Sauce Ltd, in the local area who makes a sauce specifically for oysters.
The sauce is described as “a sauce for oysters which has a similar consistency of Tabasco but has more depth of flavour and specifically developed for oysters with a naga ghost chilli base with an anchovy & lime finish”.
It did not disappoint and went really well with the tempura oysters. It provided an excellent balance to the rich oysters and the vinegar sharpness of the red onions. All in all, an excellent dipping sauce which we would highly recommend.
A note of caution though, it is hot and would only suit those who are fond of chilli.
For those who prefer a milder sauce they also make a ‘Bali’ sauce. This one is really fruity with a subtle chilli flavour coming through at the end. Our view was that the fruitiness meant it just was not quite right for what we were looking for with the tempura oyster. What it really did go well with was our salad and we added some to the dressing.
The name, La Mole, is Spanish slang for ‘The Powerful Thing’ and they state that "all the sauces are fermented to add real depth of flavour, which means they do not need to add much vinegar". It was indeed the case that neither of the sauces had that vinegary taste you sometimes get with chilli sauces, and we really liked that.
Just to be clear we have no relationship with these guys at all, we just tried their products and thought they were great. If you are a chilli lover check them out.