A saltwater bivalve with a sea-salty flavour and a succulent texture. In the 19th century, oysters were plentiful and cheap and were used to bulk out dishes such as pies, soups and stews. Supplies decreased into the 20th century and now this shellfish is highly prized.
Natives tend to be better quality than pacific or rock oysters, though they are slightly more expensive. Only use oysters that are tightly shut in their shells or which close when tapped. Any oysters that stay open are dead and should be thrown away.
Aficionados insist that they’re best eaten raw, perhaps with freshly ground black pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice or drop of Tabasco sauce. However they can be steamed, grilled or poached, too, and they make excellent canapés.
Oysters can be battered into tempura, simmered into a sauce to serve with robust flavours such as beef or pork or even cooked with cream and served inside a hollowed out brioche roll.