Oysters on the Half Shell

Carlsbad oysters are briny, sweet, with a slight metallic finish.

I love raw oysters! So does Regina, but my wife hasn’t been able to eat them for close to a year as she was carrying our child within her and raw seafood of any kind is most definitely off limits for pregnant gals.

So yesterday morning when my son Bennet and I went to the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market I saw a chance to bring a wide smile to my wife’s face. Carlsbad Aquaculture produces a couple of different kinds of oysters and mussels, right here on a farm in Southern California. Sometimes I love to scarf a few right there at the market, while my boy looks on with an expression of mild disgust. A have a friendly rapport with the man who runs the stand — Sebastien, a very pleasant French guy I’ve known for several years — and he’ll shuck a half-dozen while we exchange pleasantries. It makes a helluva breakfast!

I picked up a couple of dozen of the Carlsbad “blondes” and took them home for Regina. The blondes are tasty! Briny, mild flavor, fairly small (think 1.5 inches in length for the shucked meat), with a hint of cucumber and a tiny metallic edge. The oyster “liqueur” within tastes like clean, fresh, sweet seawater. The shells are brittle but they are a breeze to pop open with a decent oyster shucker.

We ate them very simply. A squeeze of lemon (courtesy of good friend Jen Kramer, whose Meyer lemon tree produces a riotous orgy of fruit every year), some mignonette, and some good cocktail sauce are all we need. If we had some saltines we might have eaten a few with the oysters, but perhaps not. These were so good that they didn’t need a whole lot of adornment.

Regina was ecstatic about the oysters and inhaled her portion in record time.

Basic Cocktail Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup Heinz chili sauce
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons prepared horseradish (not cream style!)
  • 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 5 dashes of hot sauce (like Tabasco or Frank’s Red Hot)
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely ground pepper
  • pinch salt
  • pinch celery salt
Mix it all together and refrigerate!

Basic Mignonette:

  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallots
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
Mix everything together and refrigerate until ready for use.

A dollop of cocktail sauce!

You might like this earlier post about oyster stew!


2 thoughts on “Oysters on the Half Shell

  1. One of the joys of living where we do is the oysters! We have a local dive that lets me bring my own mignonette. 🙂

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