Zesty Chili Oyster Sauce
There are so many ways to enjoy oysters from grilled to baked and broiled but one of my favourite ways is fresh with a tangy and spicy shallot sauce. Buy them shucked or shuck them yourself. Shucking is my hubby’s job. He opens these shells with what seems to be one swift and seem-less movement. Whether you buy them shucked or do it yourself, fresh oysters on the half shell are great to eat and fun to serve at home. Whether you’re a seasoned oyster eater looking for new ways to top these little guys or an oyster newbie wondering how to serve them, you have to try this easy and delicious sauce next time you eat oysters.
I learned a very interesting fact about oysters while I was reading up on them and thought I would share. Oysters are part of the bivalve family (as are mussels and scallops). They are incredible creatures that not only clean and protect their environment, but also don’t have a central nervous system. Some vegans eat them and some don’t. The reasoning is that oysters have a positive effect on the environment when it comes to the agricultural side to things and the fact that they don’t have a central nervous system or a brain seems to be justification for eating them as it would plants. Some interesting stuff right?!?
Back to eating these guys. I have a fond memory of having fresh oysters around the savannah in Trinidad many years ago and yes I lived to tell the tale. This is years before I lived there and I will never forget the sauce that I slurped them down with. It was fresh tasting from the lime to the seasoning. I have been feeling super nostalgic these days probably cause it’s winter and freezing but also because I lost my residency recently. Something that took me years to get while I lived there and with a lot of painstaking effort and visits to immigration.
I couldn’t go back this year unfortunately because of the timing of things. Not that we are ever planning on moving back again (that ship has sailed now) and I need my residency status but it was sad to see it go. We will be back to visit again soon hopefully but I won’t be going through the returning resident line anymore. Anyways I thought I would recreate that amazing sauce that goes so well with fresh oysters and taste a bit of Trinidad.
This is a simple sauce that is zesty and slightly spicy and super fresh (in a good way that is to all my Trini’s) from the chadon beni or cilantro. I can down so many of these succulent oysters with this sauce. We just loved eating them with it. If you have never shucked oysters before have no fear. There are some instructions below that will be helpful and definitely do a search on youtube to see the technique. Once you do one, the rest are easy. Eat them as soon as they are shucked right out of the shell with a 1⁄2-1 teaspoon of the sauce or enjoy then out of a shot glass with the sauce in it as well. That is how I remember having them in Trinidad. This is a great party food and also makes for a great appetizer too. They always look so impressive and fancy being served over ice or rock salt. Make sure to include them and this sauce at your next soirée.
Makes enough for 15-20 oysters
- 1 tsp of your favourite pepper sauce (chili sauce like Sriracha alternatively) plus more if you want more heat
- 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 2 limes, zested and juiced
- 1 small shallot finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove minced
- 2-3 tbsp of tomato ketchup
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tbsp of minced chadon beni or cilantro
- In a small bowl stir together all the ingredients and leave to infuse for 1hr.
- Empty into a serving bowl and serve with fresh shucked oysters * Or serve the Trini way in a shot glass - layer sauce oyster sauce and slurp it down.
Allow 4-6 oysters per person, and make sure they are as fresh as can be. Shucking them at home is ideal - alternatively, ask your fishmonger to do it for you. Serve on a large platter of crushed ice or rock salt
How to shuck an oyster
Place clean and scrubbed oyster flat side up on a cutting board. Put a towel over the top of the oyster but keep the hinge exposed and pointing towards your dominant hand (hinge is on the tip - or narrower end of the oyster)
Place the tip of the shucking tool (sturdy butter knife or a clean flat head screw driver will do the job) at the hinge parallel with the top shelf of the oyster - do not torque or twist it.
Once secure turn the tool to pop the top of the shell and keep the tool turned slightly to keep the shells apart then gently slide it down along one side of the shell from the hinge to the rounded bill. Remove the top shell.
Then to remove the oyster from the shell, with a sharp edged knife gently scrape the small round muscle underneath the body in the cupped part of the shell. Then it’s ready to serve immediately in or out of the shell with a teaspoon of the sauce.
For more information and a more thorough guide to storing, cleaning and shucking oysters see this guide by Kenji Lopez