A much-prized mollusc, the oyster appears on menus throughout the world, its unique flavor and texture being unlike any other type of seafood. Many varieties are extensively cultivated around the world; the best European oysters include the English Whitstable oyster and the Belon and green Marenne from France. Most are sold raw, though a few are bottled or tinned in fresh water, or frozen.
Live rock oysters can survive unopened in the shell for up to two weeks if they are kept in a cool, damp place, preferably in a hessian bag, or wrapped in seaweed. If stored in a plastic bag or a refrigerator, they will soon die. Always discard oysters with partially open shells or those with an offensive odor as they are probably already dead and could be dangerous to eat.how do you prepare oysters is an excellent resource for this.
Oysters should be plump and creamy and smell of the sea. Opened oysters should be eaten on the day of purchase.
Oyster opening is an acquired skill, but it you follow the instructions below, you should soon master it.
– You will need a short, strong, flat-bladed knife to open oysters, plus a cloth with which to protect the hand that is holding the shells, close to the hinge, where there is a gap in the corrugated shell edge. Lever the shells apart by twisting the knife quickly.
– As you pull the shells apart, take care to retain the liquid in the deeper bottom shell. Oyster liquid is much prized. Detach the oyster from the flatter top shell and place it in the deeper bottom shell, in its liquid.
Serve oysters with lemon wedges, for squeezing, and brown bread and butter, accompanied by a glass of crisp white wine. Alternatively, grill the oysters in their shells with a variety of other flavorings, such as spinach, cheese, cream, cayenne pepper or bacon. Oysters are also delicious in pies and soups.