Guy Awford, owner of Inside Restaurant and The Guildford Arms in Greenwich, as well as Hand Made Food in Blackheath, serves up romance to those not so enamoured with raw oysters…
High in protein, low in fat and packed with goodness, oysters are without doubt one of nature’s superfoods. Eaten raw, straight from the shell, they bombard the senses with an intense briny mineral rush.
They are fiddly to open and viewed as a high-risk food, which is perhaps why, despite being the food for lovers, they don’t feature in many domestic Valentine’s Day dinners. But better regulation has made them a much safer bet.
When buying live oysters, always choose a reputable vendor, such as the Fishmonger on Greenwich’s Circus Street. Proprietor Julian Pryke’s Jersey oysters are without doubt the best I’ve ever had. Choose oysters that are heavy for their size and tightly shut. Resist the temptation to get your fishmonger to pre-open them as you will lose a lot of precious juice and intense flavour.
Wrap your left hand in a tea towel and grip the oyster flat side up in the palm of your hand. Insert a short, wide blade into the hinge at the pointed end, wriggle it in then jerk the knife up and twist the blade to release the top shell.
To serve raw oysters the classic way, place in a circle on crushed ice with half a lemon in the centre. Some find the texture and flavour overwhelming, in which case deep frying them in a light tempura batter is a good compromise, and isn’t compromise what love is all about?
Tempura Oysters with Ginger & Mirin Dipping Sauce
- Prep Time 30
- Cook Time 3
- Serves 2
Ingredients500ml vegetable oil
12 oysters, removed from the shell (clean the shells to serve)
200ml ice cold water
1 egg yolk
100g plain flour, plus a little extra for dredging
25ml soy sauce
1 spring onion, finely sliced
1 red chilli, finely sliced
½ inch of ginger, peeled and finely diced
Seaweed to dress the plate
In a large pot heat the oil to 180°C
Combine the egg yolk and water. Gently stir in the flour until barely mixed, ignore any lumps. Don’t whisk or overwork as the gluten will develop and the batter will become heavy.
Dip the oysters into the flour and then into the batter.
Deep-fry for about 2 minutes or until golden and blot on absorbent paper
to remove any excess oil.
Place on the half shells and serve on the seaweed with the dipping sauce.