Hip and Traditional Oysters
for New Year’s Eve
We adore oysters with salsas, especially at the holidays. During the cold months, oysters reach their peak of flavor and texture. If you’re timid about eating raw oysters, start with the smaller ones like Pacifics, Kumomotos, and Olympias. Once started, it’s hard to stop! For a party, it’s always great to give your guests choices: serve a few contrasting salsas as well as lemon wedges and freshly ground black pepper with a variety of oysters and salsas.
Salsas provide wonderful balance and depth to the oysters’ natural richness. The red wine vinegar and shallot salsa gives a sublime, “continental” touch. When we’re in a particularly spicy mood, we alter that recipe by adding a canned chipotle chile to the blender, and serve this bracing salsa on oysters in shot glasses. For the opposite effect, the chunky tomatillo salsa is like having a mini “salad” on your oyster.
Oysters on the Half Shell:
To shuck oysters, wash under cold, running water and scrub with a stiff brush to remove any surface sand, especially around the seam. With a towel in the palm of your hand to protect it, press shell against a work counter. In the pointy end of the oyster, insert tip of oyster knife, gently twist to break seal, and run knife around edges until shell opens. Discard empty top shells. Dab oyster with tip of wet towel to remove any bits of broken shell or sand. If necessary, clean further with a pastry brush dipped in icy salted water. Shucked oysters may be kept, covered with a wet towel, in the refrigerator up to an hour.
Loosen the muscle that holds the oyster to the shell by gently sliding a knife between the two. Arrange 6 oysters per serving on chilled platters. (Or, to serve oysters extra cold, line plates with crushed ice and sprinkle with Kosher salt. Then arrange the oysters on the ice shell-side down.) Spoon about one teaspoon salsa over each oyster to cover with a thin layer. Serve immediately.
Red Wine Vinegar Salsa:
6 shallots, peeled and sliced
3/4 cup red wine vinegar
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Puree shallots and red wine vinegar in a blender until smooth. Set aside. (Do not make this simple sauce too far in advance or the delicate flavors will fade.)
Chunky Tomatillo Salsa:
4 tomatillos, husked, washed and very finely diced
2 scallions, white and some green parts, thinly sliced on the diagonal
1 bunch cilantro, stems trimmed and roughly chopped
1 tablespoon minced seeded jalapeno chile, seeds optional
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and chill at least 30 minutes or up to 4 hours to marry the flavors.
|© 2012 Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger. All rights reserved.|