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Oysters are one of the loveliest foods to match with champagne - and notorious for their romantic properties. Keep oysters in the coldest part of the refrigerator in one layer, shell-side down, covered with a damp tea towel. They will last for 2 days if your fridge is very cold. Before serving, pick out any shell fragments and use a sharp knife to loosen each oyster hinge from its shell. Serve chilled on a bed of crushed ice or rock salt with lemon wedges, buttered bread and a jar of toothpicks or baby forks. Spoon a little of one of these sauces over the top to give them a well bit more bite!



With caviar

  1. Top each oyster with a small dollop of creme fraiche or sour cream. Spoon on a little caviar and garnish with grated lemon rind and chopped parsley.

New Orleans style

  1. Sprinkle a drop or two of tabasco sauce over each oyster and decorate with chives.

Oriental dressing

  1. Mince or finely chop 2 spring onions (use as much green as there is white). Mix with half a cup of rice wine vinegar, the grated rind of one lemon and a teaspoon of finely minced fresh ginger. Spoon a smidgeon over each oyster before serving.

Angels on horseback

  1. Grill three rashers of bacon until crispy. Crumble. Mince or finely chop six prunes and blend in a saucepan with the bacon and half a cup of mascarpone. Pour over the oysters and warm under a grill for 1 minute. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve slightly warm.

In beer batter

  1. Beer makes an easy, light batter for shelled oysters. Sift half a cup of flour into a bowl and make a well in the centre. Beat an egg yolk and stir into the well with 25 grams melted butter and ¾ cup of beer. Cover and set aside for an hour.
  2. Then, whisk an egg white into a clean bowl until it forms soft peaks. Fold into the batter. Toss 18 shelled oysters in a tablespoon of chopped dill and half a cup of seasoned flour and shake off any excess so that hardly any remains. Dip into the batter and deep fry at 180ºC until they go golden and rise to the top.
  3. Drain on absorbent paper and serve hot with lemon juice or a chilli and chive dipping sauce made by mixing half a cup of mayonnaise, a tablespoon of chilli sauce, half a teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce, one tomato (peeled, seeded and diced finely), and a tablespoon each of finely chopped chives and Italian parsley.

Cooks Tips

Shell or Not? Ask your fishmonger to get you oysters in the half shell. Today they are so often sold packaged in a tub, so you will need to sweet talk your local fishmonger to get them in the half shell. Keep them in the coldest part of the refrigerator until ready to serve. Freshly shucked oysters should be kept in one layer shell side down covered with a damp tea towel. They will last for 2 days, but your fridge must be very cold. Do not wash them, but pick out any shell that may be left on them. Carefully with a sharp knife loosen the oyster from the shell for your guests. Serve them with a jar of toothpicks or baby forks for guests to serve themselves with. THE "R" RULE The rule about not eating oysters during the months when there was an "R" has two origins. One is that it's summer and before refrigeration oysters did not keep well, and also during summer they spawn, leaving them soft and fatty.

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