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Oyster Cooking Tips

Cooking too long makes oysters touch and rubbery


Oysters Rockefeller
Joseph De Leo/Photolibrary/Getty Images

Famous Oyster Recipes

The most famous oyster dish is Oysters Rockefeller, which was created by Jules Alciatore, grandson of the founder of Antoine's Restaurant in New Orleans. It was so named because the dish contains a lot of butter, making it as rich as the Rockefeller family.

Oyster sauce is a combination of oysters, soy sauce, salty brine, and various seasonings (usually garlic, ginger, sugar, and leeks). It is used in many Chinese recipes.

The oyster connoisseur will claim that cooking an oyster is blasphemy, preferring to eat them raw on the half-shell in their own liquor with nothing to overpower the delicate flavor. The staunchest defenders of raw oysters may even sneer at any accompaniment to these gems, but many enjoy them with a squeeze of fresh lemon, grated horseradish, mignonette sauce (a combination of pepper, vinegar, and a little shallot), and/or spicy cocktail sauce.

Oyster Cooking Tips

• Raw oysters should always be served chilled on a bed of ice. Thinly-sliced, buttered pumpernickel or crisp thin crackers complete the raw oyster eating experience.

• Relaxing the muscles to shuck oysters is easier if you toss them in the freezer for about 10 to 15 minutes, but don't forget them!

• If you have live oysters to be used in a cooked dish, rather than for eating raw, you can steam (a few seconds will do it) or microwave (about 30-60 seconds on high depending on the oven wattage) them just until the shells open. Then cut them from the shells and proceed.

• Oysters are salty by nature, so most recipes using oysters will not need to be salted.

• Choose freshly-shucked oysters for broiling, smoking, or baking on the half-shell.

• As with many foods, size and age make a difference -- smaller and younger oysters will most likely be more tender.

• Most importantly, cook oysters gently to avoid turning them into a rubbery, chewy waste of good shellfish. When the edges begin to curl, they've had enough heat.

• Herbs that pair well with oysters include thyme, fennel seed, paprika, and parsley.

More about Oysters:

Oyster Cooking Tips
Why only eat oysters in months with the letter "r"? FAQ
Oyster Varieties
Oyster Selection and Storage
Why do oysters grow pearls? FAQ
Oyster History
Oyster Measures and Equivalents
Oysters and Health
Oyster Recipes
Oyster Photo © 2008 Peggy Trowbridge Filippone, licensed to About.com, Inc.


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