Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Oysters on the half shell with Thai Lemon Fish Sauce

Shucked Fresh Oysters! 
     Oysters are an all time great appetizer.  Shucking skills do come with experience.  I have personally shucked over 20,000 oysters as a chef. 
     Shucking:  The object is to leave the meat totally undisturbed or undamaged when shucking.  There is nothing better than a good shucking knife for oysters. 
     Always pry the oyster at the heel of the shell to get it to open slightly. 
     Glide the shucking knife against the top shell as a guide for the knife to cut the muscle that attaches the meat to the shell. 
     Remove the smaller top shell first.
     Rinse the oyster with cold running water.
     Severing the muscle under the oyster meat from the larger bottom shell. 
     In this blog picture are six perfectly shucked oysters with absolutely no damage.  That is the objective to seek! 
     Always shuck oysters to order.  Shucking oysters ahead of time causes drying and possible bacterial contamination.
     Sauce:  The sauce is simply Thai Fish Sauce with lemon juice and lemon zest.  The sauce is like a Japanese Ponzu but slightly heavier with the anchovy flavor.  Either sauce is a nice alternative to cocktail sauce for oysters.  Blue Points and Virginia oysters are some of the best oysters to eat on the half shell.  Serve the oysters on dandelion greens garnished with lemon slices. 
     I should have given shucking lessons to the last restaurant that I ordered oysters at.  The oysters were shucked ahead of time, they were damaged and getting old from sitting in open air in a refrigerator.  The chef at the over rated restaurant really missed the boat when it came to his fresh seafood training!
     The hostess asked if I was "overjoyed" with how great the food was.  I told her the truth.  The over priced oysters were terrible! 
     I was disappointed with the quality of the food considering this is was a recommended Chicago fine dining restaurant.  The duck liver mousse that I had was very bland and it tasted only tasted like lard. 
     The hostess proceeded to argue with me, a customer.  That is a big "no no" in the restaurant business!  Especially considering that I am a culinary arts instructor and a 20 plus year chef.  The customer is always right!  Anyway, the oysters in Chicago were not good.  At least in Las Vegas, oysters are perfection shucked to order even at a good buffet.
     Florida is where I learned my seafood handling skills.  Take pride in a perfect shucked oyster!  Its not an easy accomplishment.  When an oyster is torn while shucking, the juices all escape and the oyster looks like a mess.  Practice makes the perfect shucked oyster.  Sometimes you are rewarded with a natural pearl while shucking too!  Natural pearl must be removed before serving.  Choose fresh, unopened, good smelling oysters.  If the shell smells bad then the oyster is not far behind.  Bad raw oysters can cause illness, so use good judgement.  Raw oysters!  YUM! ...  Shawna

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