If salmon is my favorite fish, oyster is my favorite shellfish. I love oysters especially when we are able to get them fresh. When I was a child, my father bought oysters by the bucket, rinsed them in a basin, drained them then poured boiling water over them. Five minutes or so later, he drained them one last time and shucked them right on the dining table. All that my brother and I had to do was eat.
Alas, shucking oysters isn’t a skill I acquired. Worse, fresh oysters aren’t very common in the hilly suburb where we live. No sea or fish port nearby. When we do see oysters in the market, they are usually small. So, imagine my glee when I found blast-frozen fully shucked oysters online.
I just let the ice melt so I could separate them then I soaked the oysters in water with starch to remove any impurities including wayward pieces of broken shell and silt that is sometimes hidden within the folds. It’s a technique I learned when I first cooked Taiwanese-style oyster omelette.
After soaking the oysters, they were drained, rinsed, drained, rinsed and drained again. They were ready to be tossed with the sauce at this point. But since I bought them frozen, I decided it was safer to blanch them for a minute.
Sliced lemongrass, minced garlic, finely chopped onion, chopped cilantro stems were placed in a bowl. Freshly squeezed calamansi juice was added and a little sugar for balance. Then, a couple of tablespoons of boiling water was stirred in.
Oysters with chili garlic lemongrass sauce
- 18 to 20 shucked oysters
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
Clean and blanch the oysters
- Place the oysters in a bowl, add the starch and enough water to cover. Stir to dissolve the starch. Leave to soak for five minutes.
- Drain the oysters, rinse, drain, rinse and drain again.
- In a pot, boil enough water to reach a depth of three inches.
- Slide in the oysters, stir and leave for one minute. Scoop out and set aside.
Make the sauce
- Mix together all the ingredients for the sauce. Make sure the sugar is fully dissolved.
- Stir in two tablespoons of boiling water.
- Taste and adjust the balance of flavor according to your preference.
Assemble the dish
- Dump the oysters into a bowl.
- Add half of the sauce and toss gently. Taste. Add more sauce, if needed.
Serve the oysters
- Ladle the oysters and sauce into small bowls. Optionally, garnish with cilantro leaves.
- Serve any remaining sauce on the side.