gastronomical delights .09 – a taste of heaven
October 2, 2007
there seem to be two contending thoughts in baking oysters. one is to smother the taste of the oysters by using a lot of breadcrumbs, garlic, tabasco sauce, onions, celery, anisette, oregano and other taste-altering ingredients. the other school of thought, on the other hand, tries to enhance the natural sea-taste of the oysters by using as little condiments as possible. i must confess, coming from cavite, to be leaning in favor of the latter school of thought.
enhancing the natural taste of oysters is to use as little number of ingredients as possible. and use those few ingredients in such a way as to add to the flavor and not to obliterate/extinguish/supplant/subract from it.
both schools of thought, however, brings out the ingenuity and the exquisite taste unique to this product of the sea.
baking oysters involves a great deal of love and tlc. first, you have to personally choose your oysters from your favorite oyster store. then you have to clean the shells individually. in which case you’ll need rubber gloves and a good utility brush. this is the hardest part since you can easily cut your fingers or palm.
when you’re about to bake the oysters, place the oysters in a pot, submerge it in water and let it bask in the glory of the stove’s medium heat. the moment the oysters open up, take it out off the water and shuck it up. don’t boil the water as this will overcook the oysters.
OSTRICHE ALLA ITALIANA
oyster topping mix one way of baking oysters using the first school of thought is to prepare the oyster topping mix. in a saucepan, melt a tablespoon of butter (or olive oil) and saute about two tablespoons of crushed garlic until the garlic turns brown. add a cup of panko (japanese breadcrumbs) and mix. add 2 tablespoons of finely chooped parsley and a quarter of a cup of grated parmesan cheese and mix. let it stand for a while.
cover the oysters with the oyster topping mix, add a bit of butter OR magnolia quickmelt cheese and place it in the oven until slightly brown or the cheese has melted.
in highlighting the difference between the two schools of thought, here is a recipe that i have developed while trying different baked oysters from the rockefeller oysters to the ostriche alla italiana (see above recipe). and this recipe include the use of prepared mustard to enhance the taste of the oysters. first, shuck the oysters open. rub the oysters with prepared mustard using your finger. remember that what we want is just to have a hint of mustard in the oysters so don’t overdo the mustard part. simply rub the oysters with mustart topside and underside while retaining some of the oyster liquer. then add magnolia quickmelt cheese, a little parsley or spinach leaves and place it in the oven until the cheese turns golden yellow. voila! a taste of heaven!
or you can combine the first recipe with the second recipe by lightly sprinkling (not cover) some oyster topping mix on top of the magnolia quickmelt cheese before placing it in the oven. this gives the oyster a nutty texture and a more refined taste. this method i prefer most.
of if you want to be fanciful about it, you can use romano, guyere or asiago cheese instead of the more common quickmelt cheese.