The first time I tasted an oyster was in culinary school. Culinary school is a unique place. There are many different types of people there. Some are just starting out on a career, some aim to switch careers, some are just passing time, and others are there so they can sound interesting at dinner parties. It’s ridiculous in a way, but I loved it.

We dedicated an entire day to oysters. We learned about various types, some classic accompaniments for them, and how to shuck them. Then it finally came time to taste them. Just as we were about to take the first swallow of raw oysters, somebody said, ‘He was a bold man that first ate on oyster.’

At the time I didn’t know it was a reference to Jonathan Swift, but agreed with the sentiment. Taking a close look at the quote, Swift refers to boiling the oysters. I thought I would go for a similar but more modern approach and poach them.

When you poach oysters, do it at a very low heat. You need to cook them gently. This way, they stay tender and practically melt in your mouth. I also serve them in their own shell. I clean the shells, make sure they stay warm and use them as a serving vessel. It’s a great way to serve oysters. So natural.

 

Print

VERMOUTH POACHED OYSTERS

Servings 4
Author Eric

Ingredients

  • 16 oysters
  • 200 g dry vermouth
  • 200 g dry white wine
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 1 clove garlic crushed
  • 200 g butter
  • 3 Roma tomatoes
  • 1 lemon
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions

SHUCKING THE OYSTERS

  1. *You can ask your fishmonger to shuck the oysters for you, but they should be eaten quickly after shucking, preferably within an hour. It's easy to do yourself! You will need an oyster shucker for this, which you should be able to buy from a fishmonger or kitchen supply store. No need to pay a lot for it; the one I use cost three dollars.

  2. First, scrub the shell under extremely cold water.
  3. Then place the oyster face down between a towel. The towel protects your hands in case you slip. Many cooks skip this precaution. It’s a huge mistake and won’t end well. 

  4. Take an oyster shucker and slowly work the tip into the bottom hinge. Do not insert too much of the knife, just the tip.

  5. Twist the knife, and the oyster will pop open.

  6. Run the knife and sever the abductor muscle that attaches the oyster to its shell. Remove the top shell and discard.
  7. Gently run your knife over the oyster, and it will exude more liquid.
  8. Run your knife under the oyster to separate it from the rest of the shell.
  9. Strain the liquid and reserve. This will be added to your poaching liquid.

FOR VERMOUTH SAUCE

  1. Cut the carrot, shallot and celery into medium dice; crush the garlic and leave the skin on to prevent burning.
  2. In a heavy bottom pan, lightly caramelize the vegetables with the thyme.

  3. Add the vermouth and white wine and reduce by half.
  4. Add the juice from the oysters.
  5. Strain, return the liquid to the pan and mount with butter.
  6. Add juice from half or one lemon depending on taste.

FOR TOMATO GARNISH

  1. Core and score the tomatoes on the bottom.
  2. Blanch in boiling water for 4 seconds per tomato and then place in ice water.
  3. When cool, remove from the water and proceed to skin, seed and finely dice the tomatoes.

POACHING OYSTERS

  1. *Poaching oysters is a gentle technique. You want to heat them just enough to heat them through. If you cook them too quickly or for too long they become rubbery.

  2. Heat the oysters in a small pan with their natural juices that you reserved while shucking. 

  3. Make sure the liquid is warm but not too hot. It should not be boiling but there should be a light steam coming off the liquid’s surface.

  4. Swirl them around to ensure even cooking.
  5. When the edges of the oyster begin to curl, they’re done.
  6. Remove immediately and serve.
  7. Refresh your sauce with the poaching liquid and serve in the shell.