Best Steamed Oysters And Sauce
Oysters are an easy, healthy and delicious dinner or appetizer. I love these simple steamed oysters on the grill (or a tray in the oven) because it's so easy and they get so much flavor cooking in their own juice. The liquor from the fresh oysters heats up and steams them right open, making the top shell easy to remove. A drizzle of my favourite sauce is the perfect, mouthwatering finish. A perfect starter for 2 or for a big crew.
Fanny Bay Oysters
Which oyster to use? The Fanny Bay variety are perfect for this recipe. Read along and I'll tell you a little more about some of the best oysters you can find!
Growing up on Vancouver Island in Canada, the first oysters I ate were Fanny Bay oysters. These lightly briny, minerally, sweet and meaty farmed oysters are some of the worlds best! They have a more distinctive rough beach shell texture.
Large Fanny Bays are the ones I use for all my cooked oyster dishes like the steamed oysters here. I seek out the smaller ones if I'm going to enjoy them raw. I feel so lucky to live near these amazing shellfish but don't worry, most good fish mongers carry these fresh oysters or will order them in for you.
Vancouver Island is excellent for farming oysters with our pristine clear and cold ocean. These shellfish love cold water, staying firm and sweet. Fanny Bay oysters and the other varieties that grow here are an international delicacy.
Another variety that grows particularly well here are the Kusshis. Want your shell with a deep cup for lots of mignonette or oyster liquor? Kusshi oysters are the ones for you and are best eaten raw. They have a firm, meaty texture and cucumber and briny flavor. These farmed oysters are specially tumbled to create a deeper shell than other oysters. Grown for 3 to four years, they are available from end of summer to late spring.
Kusshi oysters tend to be easier to open or shuck than some of the others. Between that and their nice small size and firm texture, they are an excellent beginner oyster!
Kusshi and Kumamoto Oysters are often compared and share many characteristics with each other. Kusshi is considered the brinier of the two and more easily available, Kumamotos are usually grown a little south of us in Washington.
Classic Mignonette Recipe
Try my simple mignonette recipe for oysters on the half shell. Mignonette: Finely chop 2 Tbsp shallots, add to bowl. Top with 6 tbsp Champagne vinegar (red or white wine vinegar work well too). Stir and let sit for 15 minutes up to overnight and serve alongside your oyster platter. Let guests spoon a tsp or so of the mignonette onto their oyster right before shooting it back.
Grown in trays, this oyster has a slightly ruffled white and purply black shell. This mild and sweet oyster has cream and melon flavors with a an austere finish. These are so photogenic and their color and ruffles look royal like their name.
With their smooth, creamy texture, Royal Miyagi are a solid choice for raw or cooked oysters. Because of their small size, steaming in the shell is an excellent way to serve them if you choose to cook them.
Oysters are an excellent Ocean wise choice. Have you heard about the Ocean wise program? It was developed near here by the Vancouver Aquarium in 2005. Started to protect oceans around the world from overfishing, pollution and climate change and other factors that affect our worldwide ecosystem, they do some amazing work.
Ocean wise successfully created a comprehensive list of sustainably harvested seafood. Their list includes a lot of details so you can look up any seafood or shellfish you aren't sure of and you can bet they've got it listed. In addition, they created a logo that restaurants around the world now use to denote ocean wise choices. This has been an amazing and successful way to bring awareness and accountability to the grocery and dining industry.
There are many kinds of oysters you can choose but I think BC's Ocean wise varieties are the best. Our cold and clear waters along with techniques to lower oysters into deeper colder water in summer result in the firmest, sweetest and most delicious oysters you can find. These are a luxury food choice you can feel good about.
Can You Freeze Oysters?
Yes, you can freeze oysters in their shell or shucked but do not eat them raw once they've been frozen. Make sure you seal them in an airtight container or bag once frozen to maintain good quality and try to use them within 3 months. Frozen oysters lose a bit of their original texture but work great for cooked recipes like my Oysters Motoyaki (Miso Baked), just thaw first and drain any excess liquid gently. Or you can use them thawed without draining in my West Coast Oyster Stew, based on the East Coast original.
A Bushel Of Oysters
These bivalves make great party food. Steaming them on the grill like I do for this recipe, makes it easy and fairly mess free. Building an oyster platter is another great way to serve them up to friends. A 3 tiered tray or serving dish really adds to the festive feel when stacked high with shucked oysters and accompaniments. (Just like the seafood towers in France!) Favorite pairings are wedges or lemon, freshly grated horseradish, hot sauce like tobasco and mignonette. Mignonette is a simple mixture or finely diced shallot macerated in vinegar, usually champagne, red or white wine vinegar but you can play around and get creative.
What Wine Goes With A Seafood Platter
The best oyster wine pairing in my opinion, is a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. (We love the Kim Crawford and the Oyster Bay Sauv Blancs.) There are many schools of thought on what to drink, but these bright, unoaked wines hint at lemon and are so palate cleansing and complimentary you can't go wrong. They have a wonderful minerality that plays off the shellfish beautifully. Sauvignon Blanc also pairs really well with my rich and unctuous baked oysters too, an excellent foil for the tangy creamy flavours.
The French love Chablis, Muscadet and Champagne and I cannot disagree. We often enjoy a dry bubbly or Chablis as well.
For something out of the ordinary with this sesame soy steamed oyster recipe, a medium-dry to dry sake would also be a fun and unique pairing.
Albarino, a Spanish wine, is another bright and lively choice.
The key is to keep your wine bone dry and unoaked unless you are having a heavily sauced, cooked recipe that can handle a little more richness.
Other Drink Pairings
If you aren't into wine, a dry gin martini plays beautifully off the minerality of raw oysters. Why not go further and add a little oyster liquor instead of olive juice?
Vodka is another classic oyster house pairing. Make sure it is high quality and ice cold, served in small shot glasses.
If you choose beer, choose a refreshing and crisp beer, perhaps draught.
Enjoying some Ostras? Oysters in Spanish love a little Manzanilla sherry. It really is fun to pair your drinks to your mood, your location and especially to the style of recipe and this is no exception. Enjoy Manzanilla with ostras escabeche or raw.
Fanny Bay Steamed Oysters with Sesame Soy Sauce
- ½ c Soy Sauce I use Kikkoman
- 2 tbsp Water
- 1 tbsp Brown Sugar
- 2 tsp Sesame Oil
- 2 tbsp Scallion or Chives, finely chopped
- Optional A few dashes of hot sauce
- 12-24 Fanny Bay Oysters in their shell Size medium to large
- Preheat grill or oven to 500'F. Mix together all ingredients except oysters and set aside.
- Place oysters on the grill with the deepest (cup) side of their shell down and close the lid. If you are using your oven, put them on a baking sheet with edges. If you want to keep them upright to save their liquor, pile some kosher salt and nestle them in it and place tray of oysters in the oven.
- Grill for 5 minutes or until you see the shells start to open. Some shells may open a lot, others may only open a few millimeters so yo may need to look closely. (I've added a picture for reference. The front oyster opened the most, the ones behind you can barely but they are open too. Oysters don't always open as widely as clams and mussels when steamed.)
- Remove from the grill or oven, let cool a minute. Prepare a platter with some rock salt or kosher salt and then pry the top shells off with an oyster shucker, knife or just your hands. You may want a washable oven mitt for this job as they will be hot. Once the top shells are off, place them open side up on the platter, using the salt to hold them upright.
- Spoon a teaspoon of the soy mixture over each one and serve. (This is a salty mixture so 1 tsp is enough for each.)