The most famous oyster dish is Oysters Rockefeller, which was created by Jules Alciatore, grandson of the founder of Antoine's Restaurant in New Orleans. It was so named because the dish contains a lot of butter, making it as rich as the Rockefeller family.
Oyster sauce is a combination of oysters, soy sauce, salty brine, and various seasonings, usually garlic, ginger, sugar, and leeks. It is used in many Chinese recipes.
Oyster connoisseurs claim that cooking an oyster is blasphemy, preferring to eat them raw on the half-shell in their own liquor with nothing to overpower the delicate flavor. The staunchest defenders of raw oysters might even sneer at any accompaniment to these gems, but many enjoy them with a squeeze of fresh lemon, grated horseradish, mignonette sauce -- a combination of pepper, vinegar, and a little shallot -- and/or spicy cocktail sauce.
Oyster Cooking Tips
- Raw oysters should always be served chilled on a bed of ice. Thinly sliced, buttered pumpernickel or crisp thin crackers complete the raw oyster-eating experience.
- Relaxing the muscles to shuck oysters is easier if you toss them in the freezer for about 10 to 15 minutes but don't forget them.
- If you have live oysters to be used in a cooked dish, rather than for eating raw, you can steam a few seconds or microwave them about 30 to 60 seconds on high depending on the oven wattage, just until the shells open. Then cut them from the shells and proceed.
- Oysters are salty by nature, so most recipes using oysters will not need to be salted.
- Choose freshly shucked oysters for broiling, smoking or baking on the half-shell.
- As with many foods, size and age make a difference -- smaller and younger oysters will most likely be more tender.
- Most importantly, cook oysters gently to avoid turning them into a rubbery, chewy waste of good shellfish. When the edges begin to curl, they've had enough heat.
- Herbs that pair well with oysters include thyme, fennel seed, paprika, and parsley.
Oyster Nutrition Facts
When you're eating oysters, you might be shoving thoughts about fat, calories, and carbs way to the back of your mind. But in case you want to be less blissfully unaware, here's the 411 on oysters.
- One medium Pacific oyster (about 50 grams), cooked, has 41 calories, 1.2 grams of fat and 2.5 grams of carbohydrates. Not bad, you say. It also gives you more than a day's requirement of vitamin B12. These numbers are about the same for a raw Pacific oyster of the same size.
- Six medium Eastern wild oysters (about 84 grams) have 43 calories, 1.4 grams of fat and 2.3 carb grams, about the same as one medium Pacific oyster. These also provide more than a day's worth of vitamin B12. These numbers are about the same whether the oysters are eaten raw or are cooked dry or moist.
- If you want them breaded and fried, you might need to put the calories out of your mind. These same six medium Eastern wild oysters breaded and fried will cost you 175 calories, 11 grams of fat and 10 carb grams. They supply more than two days' worth of vitamin B12 and a third of one day's requirement for iron. So that's a plus.