Always a symbol of refined cuisine, to be savored in one bite and rigorously without chewing, oysters are the shellfish par excellence, the undisputed queens of the sea. To be eaten only if very fresh, with at most a few drops of lemon juice, oysters are so particular that they divide the whole world into two large factions: those who love them and those who hate them. What is certain is that, raw or cooked, oysters are a real taste experience, a dip in the flavors and aromas of the sea.
How to tell if oysters are fresh
When buying a product to eat raw, freshness is not only a rule but an absolute obligation. But how do you recognize fresh oysters? First, consider the weight: if the oysters are too light, it means that they have lost liquid and therefore they cannot be fresh. Once opened, in fact, the fresh oysters must be still immersed in their liquid, with the pulp that can be easily detached from the valve. Another rule is that of perfume: the shell, in fact, must have the taste of the sea and not of ammonia or anything else.
How to open oysters
Cleaning the oysters is the first step and, to be honest, even if it is not so simple, it is the only way to taste them unless you buy them already open, which we do not recommend. If you have decided to try your hand at this laborious operation, here are the steps to follow:
Get a short blade knife to open your oysters;
Wrap the oyster in a cloth or lay it with the flat valve upwards on an oven glove: in this way you will not risk cutting yourself if the blade escapes you;
Insert the tip of the knife into the hinge facing you;
Gently rotate the blade first to your right and then to your left, so as to open the valves following the curvature of the shell;
With the tip of the knife, remove the mollusk being careful not to ruin it: the best way is to gently slide the blade;
Now that your oyster is open, we just have to understand how to best enjoy it.
How to eat raw oysters
Okay, you managed to open your oysters, and now what? Oysters should be savored in one bite and not chewed, but on how to best do it there are two schools of thought:
swallow down the mollusk together with its liquid: in one fell swoop let it slip into your mouth, taste it for a second and send it down, without chewing;
first sip the liquid present in the shell thus preparing the taste buds to the triumph of flavors that awaits them, then let the oyster descend gently.
Seasoning, yes or no?
Purists are really sure: oysters should be eaten "absolute", without any type of seasoning or addition. However, it is well known that in the kitchen everyone says something and even here the opinions are different: if you are not 100% purists you can also serve the oysters with some lemon juice (squeezed at the moment of eating, of course) or at the most you can combine a bit of black pepper.
In any case, whatever your philosophy, it is essential that the open oysters are served very cold. Present them on a serving plate full of ice: beautiful to look at and good to eat.
How to combine oysters
By now, you will have understood that savoring oysters is a sensory experience that must be honored as such and, despite purists, you have several possibilities to honor the queens of the sea:
Vodka, a hymn to freshness: immediately after tasting the oyster, drink a "shot" of vodka, obviously frozen. Alcohol is in fact perfect for enhancing, without covering it, the flavor of this mollusk.
Just like Napoleon: it seems that the French emperor loved oysters seasoned with an emulsion based on cognac, salt, pepper, lemon and a drop of olive oil.
Fizz: clichés often don't tell the truth and in this case it will surprise you to know that eating oysters with champagne is not always a good idea; in fact the acidity of champagne does not enhance in the best way the flavor of these mollusks. Better a slightly sparkling white wine, a Chardonnay or a brut sparkling wine.
How to eat cooked oysters
Maybe someone will disagree, but the oysters can also be cooked: fried, au gratin or in the oven, the important thing is not to cook them too much and for too long to avoid covering their flavor.