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The Good Food Guide to oysters

Oysters and Champagne at J. Sheekey

Lusted after by the Romans, but considered poor-man’s food in the 18th century, these briny, slurpy shellfish still bring celebratory sparkle to a meal

In the UK, wild natives are in season September to April, while farmed Pacific or rock oysters are harvested year-round. Typically served raw on ice, shucked and gleaming, they need nothing more than a mignonette dressing (diced shallots, vinegar and pepper) a dash of Tabasco or squeeze of lemon to bring out their salty flavour.

Not sure about eating them raw? Dinner at Paul Ainsworth’s Padstow restaurant, No6, starts with a lightly crumbed Porthilly rock, quickly deep-fried; or head to The Unruly Pig near Woodbridge for an oyster velouté, a delicious way to enjoy the flavour if the texture is too much. Otherwise, try:

  • Rockefeller – this New Orleans recipe has many variations, but most involve topping the oyster with butter-cooked onion, spinach, parsley and breadcrumbs before grilling
  • Kilpatrick (or Kirkpatrick) – oysters are topped with a sauce of tomato, diced bacon and Worcestershire sauce, then crumbed and grilled
  • Angels on horseback – oysters, removed from the shell, are wrapped in bacon and baked
Published February 2020