I was never a big fan of oysters, but they are growing on me. My previous experience started and ended with a far too big oyster, whose texture, appearance and flavour all seemed alien, and dare I say, wrong! Since they are considered such a delicacy around the world, I had to do something to compensate for this shocking start.
On our annual migration in search of weird and wonderful foods, we often make a pit-stop in Coutainville, Normandy. According to most of the Normans I know, Normandy produces some of the finest oysters and mussels in Europe, if not the world. The high quality of the oysters here comes from the fact that they have some of the highest tides in Europe. Also the seawater contains lots of plankton, which is essential to nourish the oysters. Whether or not they are the best in the world is debatable, but I have used these trips as a way to find out more about these molluscs and try to learn to appreciate them more.
Oysters are packed with protein and many essential nutrients and minerals. As well as offering a range of health benefits, many consider them to be a great aphrodisiac.
They are graded in terms of size, 0 being the largest and 5 the smallest. If you’re a novice, it’s probably best to start with a smaller oyster (size 4 or 3) and work your way up! Some say you should swallow the oyster whole, but I’ve been told they should be chewed, so you experience the full flavour. They are usually served on crushed ice and often pepped up with a splash of lemon juice or vinegar (and the juice inside the shell mopped up with bread).
Here is a recipe I discovered for some oysters which were cooked on a barbecue on the beach this summer. Give them a try, you will like them because they are easy to eat and the subtle flavours in the creamy sauce really adds something special to the oyster experience.
Creamy Camembert and apple barbecued oysters
2 dozen oysters
3 shallots, finely chopped
1 apple, chopped
1/2 Camembert, diced
Pommeau, 2 shots
Creme fraiche, 3 tbs
To prepare the sauce, sauté the shallots in a pan with some oil. Once they start to turn translucent add the apple, until the apple starts to soften and season. Add the Pommeau to flambé. Next reduce the heat and add the Camembert and creme fraiche. Simmer until the Camembert has melted and the sauce is ready.
Shuck the oysters, spoon some sauce into each one and place on the barbecue, to cook for 10-15 minutes.
Voila! Delicious, creamy oysters, that slip down very easily. Serve with some crusty bread and a bottle of chilled wine or Cider (if you want to honour this dish’s Norman roots).