It’s a little passé, but i love crumbed oysters. I know that hardcore oyster aficionados will roll their eyes with disdain. I know also that oysters eaten in the nude (the mollusc that is, not the eater), with just a splash of lemon, are a delicacy (I love them that way, too). But at the moment i’m going through a crumbed oyster phase — so don’t try to talk me out of it.
I take the pearly bodies, dust them with flour, dunk them in egg wash, douse them with breadcrumbs — the big, ‘Panko’, Japanese-style crumb — then dip them, fleetingly, into a pan of molten oil. It should take a matter of seconds for them to metamorphose to light, golden brown.
You need to work quickly. Pull them from the pan, drain them on kitchen roll, and sprinkle with salt. An accompanying tartare sauce should be ready to roll. The half shells, washed clean then dried in a warm oven, should be sitting on a platter, atop a bed of rock salt.
Pop an oyster in each half shell, then get them to the table (or into your gob, if you’re not entertaining) — quick, smart.
There is luxury in that initial brittle bite, which releases the first whiff of oyster — that unmistakable, sharp, briny note – and the secondary encounter with the creamy, and hopefully still hot, interior.
These babies take seconds to cook and disappear just as quickly, so make twice as many as you think you’ll eat. Forget manners — fend for yourself, get to the platter fast, and fork them into your mouth often. That’s my best advice.
What’s your retro food indulgence?
Postscript: I make a delicate tartare sauce comprising mayonnaise, lemon juice, rinsed salted baby capers (chopped), snipped chives, and minutely diced shallot and baby gherkins. Season with salt & freshly ground black pepper. Precise measurements are irrelevant: go with what tastes right.