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How to Cook and Eat Oysters


According to French poet, Leon-Paul Fargue, eating oysters is “like kissing the sea on the lips.” It’s true that whether you eat them raw, grilled, steamed or fried, oysters are nearly always an exquisite eating experience. But it’s important you prepare and eat them in the right way. In our guide, How to Shuck Oysters, we explained how to correctly get an oyster out of its shell. Now we’ll show you how to cook them in various ways, and explain how to eat them. We may even throw in an oyster recipe or two along the way.

Eating Oysters Raw

Sometimes there’s no better way to enjoy an oyster than in its natural, unadulterated state. A raw oyster, in fact, requires no embellishments. It is a sweet and lustrous thing in its own right, immaculate when slurped right out of the shell. Sure, some folks like to add a touch of lemon, soy sauce, dill or cocktail sauce, and you’re welcome to try that yourself, but we believe oysters taste best in their own juices.

You may need to use a spoon, fork or knife to remove the oyster flesh from the shell if this hasn’t been done already. Then, simply lift the shell up to your mouth and lean back, slurping the whole oyster in one go. Do not feel obliged, by any means, to adopt any pretence of grace while doing this. Oysters are meant to be lavished, not nibbled in delicate portions. Having said that, try not to swallow it too quickly; you should chew the oyster to better enjoy its soft, buttery texture and briny flavor.

How to Fry Oysters

Breading oysters and deep-frying them gives them a crisp and crunchy exterior that contrasts beautifully with the juicy, tender meat inside. Simply dust the deshelled oysters in flour, wash them in egg-whites and then coat with a layer of breadcrumbs or panko. Fry them in oil, occasionally turning them, until both sides are golden-brown.

Fried oysters pair wonderfully with citrusy flavors like lemon or lime, and with a number of condiments like vinegar, hot sauce or cream. Serve them with soups, salads, or other fried foods such as French fries or onion rings. For drinks, pair them with champagne, beer or vermouth.

How to Steam Oysters

We recommend keeping the oysters in the shells (not shucked) when steaming them. However, make sure they’re well-cleaned. Pour a few inches of water into a pot for your steaming liquid; you may wish to add some white wine, beer or garlic for added flavor. Arrange the oysters on a steamer tray above the water, cover and bring the water to boil, then steam the oysters for 5 to 8 minutes, ensuring that the oysters' shells have opened.

Steamed oysters go well with starchy sides like bread or potatoes, grain-based sides such as corn-on-the-cob or corn fritters, or vegetables like collard greens or broccoli.

How to Grill Oysters

For grilled oysters, we recommend shucking them and removing them entirely from the shell. Lather them in butter and grill them at medium to high heat for a couple of minutes, until the butter starts to caramelize, at which point they’re ready to eat with some added lemon, lime or hot sauce. You can alternatively grill them still in the shell, but there is a greater risk of overcooking them this way. Serve your oysters with another grilled food such as grilled mushrooms or sausages, or with a refreshing salad.

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