Five ways to eat oysters

People either love them or hate them, but oysters remain a prized delicacy.

A versatile shellfish, they can be eaten raw or cooked, the later including fried, baked, steamed, or stewed. Some people like to swallow the oyster whole, while others prefer to chew them to savour the full flavour. Most Kiwis prefer Bluff oysters, but Pacific oysters, available all year round, are also popular.

In season bought by the dozen, already shucked, and served on the half shell. Keep the juice pooled in the shell, and add a condiment such as horseradish, lemon or a wine vinegar, if desired. Tilt the wider, bottom edge part of the oyster shell to your lips, slurping in the oyster along with its juices. You can also use a tiny fork to scoop out the oyster and eat it that way instead.

Po’boy style oyster sandwiches are also popular. Shuck the oysters, then bread and deep-fry them, and arrange on a halved baguette with pickled slaw, hot sauce, and a mayonnaise-based remoulade.

Oyster stew comprises oysters cooked with aromatics, milk, cream, and sometimes sherry. It is typically served with tiny crackers known as oyster crackers, which may have been named after the stew.

If you don’t like the idea of raw oysters but also don’t want to fry them, steaming is another option. Steaming fresh oysters for about three to five minutes will also help open the shells. Steamed oysters can be eaten as is, added to a hot pasta dishes or even seafood chowders. If eating on their own, try a squeeze of lemon juice, a light viniagrette, or maybe butter and chopped chives, parsley or coriander.

Also known as oysters Rockefeller, grilled oysters are made by topping oysters on the half shell with butter, herbs, and breadcrumbs, then briefly baking or grilling them. Try a few favourite toppings, being careful not to overpower the delicate taste of the oysters. Options include grilling just with butter, then adding salsa. classic toppings, or a vinegar and shallot mignonette sauce.

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