Oyster season has arrived. Here are two ways the Shelbourne serves them, with recipes

The oysters are cooked in these dishes, which makes them easier for first-timers to approach

Shelbourne signature: oysters with Liscannor crab meat, Lambay lobster, Hollandaise sauce and Gruyère

Shelbourne signature: oysters with Liscannor crab meat, Lambay lobster, Hollandaise sauce and Gruyère

 

It’s nearly September, and so the time of year when oysters traditionally come back on the menu, at least according to the traditional rule that you should eat them only in months containing an R – so never in May, June, July or August.

In fact you can get excellent oysters year-round in Ireland, according to Garry Hughes, executive chef at the Shelbourne, who says native oysters come of age at this time of year.

The five-star Dublin hotel will be celebrating the shellfish this September, serving them a variety of ways. If you haven’t eaten oysters before, how should a novice begin? Hughes’s advice is to start with a small one – nothing too intimidating. He suggests trying a Dungarvan oyster, from Waterford, a personal favourite that features on the Shelbourne menu, or a Flaggy Shore oyster, from Co Clare, which he discovered while staycationing with his family this summer.

If you’re buying oysters to prepare at home, Garry Hughes recommends going to a reputable fishmonger and looking for oysters that are clean and fully closed, with no offensive smell

Another option for the oyster virgin, according to Hughes, is to try them cooked, which is how they appear in the three recipes below, two from the Shelbourne and one from Sean Smith, of the Mill Restaurant at Cliff at Lyons, in Co Kildare.

If you’re buying oysters to prepare at home, Hughes recommends going to a reputable fishmonger and looking for oysters that are clean and fully closed, with no offensive smell. “Feel at ease to ask your fishmonger for the certificate to show that they have come from a purification tank and that they have been delivered within temperature and how they have been stored,” Hughes says. “Your fishmonger will have all of this information to hand.”

And the best way to serve oysters? He likes them with a squeeze of lemon and paired with a glass of champagne or Chablis.

THE SHELBOURNE SIGNATURE OYSTERS

Serves two

Ingredients
6 native oysters
30g garlic butter
30g Liscannor crab meat
5g chopped chives
2g lemon juice
2g lemon zest
2g grain mustard
30g Lambay lobster meat, cooked then diced

For the thermidor sauce
2 shallots, finely diced
50ml Jameson Black Barrel whiskey
200ml cream
Lemon juice
Dijon mustard to taste
Gruyère cheese to taste

For the Hollandaise sauce
75g clarified butter
1 large free-range egg yolk
1tbsp white-wine vinegar
Lemon juice to taste

Method

For the thermidor sauce
1 Sweat the shallots in oil until soft.

2 Add the whiskey and flambe it, to remove the alcohol. Now add the cream and bring to a boil.

3 Add lemon juice, mustard and Gruyère cheese to taste.

For the Hollandaise sauce
1 To clarify the butter, heat it gently in a pot and remove the milk solids that will form. You’ll be left with a clear yellow liquid.

2 Mix the egg yolk and vinegar together in a bowl, and whisk over a pot of barely simmering water until the mixture starts to form ribbons.

3 Very slowly drizzle the clarified butter into the mixture, whisking all the time, to form a smooth, fully emulsified sauce.

4 Finish with lemon juice to taste.

For the complete dish
1 Shuck the oysters, passing their juice through a fine sieve to remove any shell; retain this juice.

2 Pick through the crab to ensure there are no bones. Mix the crab with the lemon juice and zest. Finish with the chopped chives.

3 In a pan, warm the oysters and their juice in the garlic butter until just cooked, then add the lobster and crab and heat them through. Add a little thermidor sauce and heat this through, too – do not let it boil.

4 Finish with a spoon of Hollandaise sauce, divide the shellfish mixture between the oyster shells, and put under a grill or in the oven to brown.

HOT SMOKED OYSTERS WITH LEMONGRASS SAUCE AND TROUT CAVIAR

Serves two

Ingredients
6 Dungarvan fresh oysters
1 leek
Chives
Trout roe
Seaweed (you can pick this up from your local fishmonger; wash it and blanch it in boiling water for 10 seconds before refreshing it in iced water)

For the lemongrass sauce
500ml fresh cream
½ banana shallot, finely chopped
½ clove garlic, sliced
40g lemongrass, chopped
½ lemon – juice and zest
Butter
Vegetable stock
Salt and pepper

Method

For the lemongrass sauce
1 Sweat the shallots and garlic in butter, ensuring they stay translucent and don’t colour.

2 Add the lemongrass and sweat for an additional two minutes.

3 Add the cream, lemon juice and lemon zest and allow to reduce by half on a low heat.

4 Slowly add the vegetable stock until the sauce is at the desired consistency; season with salt and pepper.

5 Pass through a sieve and set aside for use.

For the oysters
1 Smoke the oysters with a smoking gun or with wood chips over a stove.

2 Sweat the leek in butter until soft, mix with lemongrass sauce, put leek mix on top of oyster, bake at 180 degrees for seven minutes.

3 Top with trout roe and freshly chopped chives.

4 Garnish with seaweed

Sean Smith, head chef of the Mill Restaurant at Cliff at Lyons, suggests grilled oysters with bacon and Parmesan.

GRILLED OYSTERS WITH BACON AND PARMESAN

Serves four as a starter

Ingredients
16 rock or giga oysters
8 thin slices of good pancetta
100g Parmesan
Worcestershire sauce
30ml cream

Method
1
Open four oysters per person.

2 Lay the pancetta on a baking tray and cook in a 180-degree oven for 10 minutes, until crispy.

3 Pour a dash of cream and a dash of Worcestershire sauce into each oyster.

4 Sprinkle some grated Parmesan into each oyster.

5 Grill under a hot grill, until bubbling.

6 Crumble the pancetta on top, sprinkle with chopped chives, and serve.

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