A taste of the sea: two ways to prepare oysters

Oysters are a true Irish delicacy, here they are given an oriental twist and a more traditional approach – with Guinness, naturally

Asian style oysters with toasted seaweed. Photograph by Harry Weir

Asian style oysters with toasted seaweed. Photograph by Harry Weir

 

VANESSA’S WAY... ATLANTIC OYSTERS WITH ORIENTAL DRESSING AND SEAWEED CRISPS

I once spent an afternoon eating oysters and drinking a pint of Guinness in a popular Irish pub off Grafton Street, which would have appeared slightly out of character for myself and my sister, were we not following up on a tip-off she got at a dinner party.

It appeared to be agreed among her friends that the best raw oysters in Dublin were to be found in Davy Byrnes on Duke Street, thus we found ourselves eating a dozen luscious chilled oysters in the half shell accompanied by two pints of Guinness – like proper tourists.

Salty and meaty and served with a squeeze of lemon, the oysters were totally sublime.

No surprise, as we have a proud tradition of cultivating oysters in our pristine Atlantic waters, that are acclaimed by the world’s best chefs.

It’s quite possible that Ireland’s aquaculture industry has further potential, so let’s all watch this space.

The slogan for Achill Oysters, is “Taste the sea in every mouthful” and they can be served just with a squeeze of lemon.

However, just as with sushi, a light soy sauce goes well with raw seafood, so why not try this crowd-pleasing Asian-inspired dressing with the oysters, garnished with seaweed crisps, to make this an interesting dinner party canape to enjoy with other seafood lovers.

GARY’S WAY... DONEGAL OYSTERS WITH BACON, CABBAGE AND SCORCHED GUINNESS SABAYON

This is a dish I first cooked back in 2007, when I was working in my good pal Gearóid Lynch’s The Olde Post Inn, in Cavan. Gearóid is a chef who, like myself, likes to show off Irish food at every opportunity, and nothing screams Irish food more than a plate of oysters with bacon, cabbage and Guinness.

The purist will tell you that the only way to eat an oyster is raw and straight from the shell, with all the lovely salty juices within. But for those that are nervous about going down that route, cooking them may mean that they won’t seem as daunting.

I grew up in Donegal, surrounded by wild Irish oysters. There were many more of them around back then than you’ll find on the shores of Lough Swilly nowadays.

Wild oyster season stretches from September through to December, but the rock oyster is farmed and thus they are now available virtually year round.

Edward Gallagher’s Irish Premier oysters in Donegal, Kelly’s in Galway, and Carlingford, Co Louth are the first names and places to jump to mind when discussing oysters.

The famous Galway Oyster Festival is the unofficial kick-off of oyster season in Ireland and where the world champion oyster shucking competition takes place. If you haven’t been, put it on your bucket list.

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