Adventures of the Heart
Mary Zalmanek
Appetizers: Oyster Tasting

Serves 2.

 

Oysters.  Aphrodisiac or hype?  The key is not the food itself, but what you believe about it.  If you expect them to restore life to your lagging libido, they just might.

 

This oyster tasting gives you the opportunity to try them raw with a cocktail sauce, grilled with spiced butter, or baked with various toppings.  If you can get oysters from different parts of the country, compare them to see which ones you prefer.  We liked the Kumamoto oysters best, and Pearl Points and Gold Coasts were good, too.

 

12 to 24 fresh oysters in the shell

Select live oysters, ones that are tightly clamped shut, or will clamp shut when tapped.  Discard oysters with loose or broken shells.  Scrub shells with a brush under cold running water.

 

Raw Oysters with Cocktail Sauce

 

1/4 cup ketchup

2 tbsp prepared horseradish

1 tbsp lemon

 

Mix ketchup, horseradish and lemon together, adjusting for personal preference.   Dip raw oysters into cocktail sauce.

 

Grilled Oysters with Spiced Butter

 

Preheat barbecue grill.

 

4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
3 garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp cayenne pepper hot sauce

Salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp lemon

 

Cook butter mixture over low heat.

 

Place oysters on hot grill. Cover barbecue with lid, opening any vents. Cook 5 to 10 minutes (depending on size) or until shells begin to open to indicate doneness.  When the first oyster opens, take them all off the grill using an oven mitt or tongs. Be careful not to spill their juices as you lift them. Pry open the oysters with an oyster knife or screwdriver.  Wear a protective glove. 

 

Remove oysters from shell and dip them in spiced butter.

 

Baked Oysters with Cheese Toppings

 

1/4 cup crisp crumbled bacon

1/4 cup diced red bell pepper

1/8 cup diced jalapeno

1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup chopped artichoke hearts, see note

1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese

 

Put each of the ingredients in small ramekins. 

 

Shuck the oysters, leaving them on the half shells. Let each person top his or her own oysters with any combination of toppings.  Arrange the oysters on a rimmed baking sheet.  Bake at 350 for 5 to 10 minutes, depending on size.

 

Note: Use frozen or canned artichoke hearts if you must, but I recently found a package of fresh artichoke hearts in the produce section at Whole Foods.  You'll probably have enough left over to make the smoked salmon and artichoke quiche.