Warm Oysters or How My Theory that I Prefer Hot Food was Validated

Warm Oysters with Balsamic Vinegar or as the French say, Les Huitres Tiedes au Vinaigre Balsamique is my final oyster recipe in French Farmhouse Cookbook.

Susan, the author, took a tour on the Breton shore and wined and dined with many an oyster farmer. One in particular suggested Susan try this method which has warmed me up to oysters and I think will be enjoyed by others as well.

There’s something about warm butter and seafood that is extremely comforting for me. The addition of balsamic adds to the warmth in taste without overshadowing the oysters.

I’m actually excited about eating oysters more and look forward to trying out different methods. I admittedly probably won’t make my own anymore. Making your own tends to require some forethought and a special shucking knife that I do not own.

This is a recipe that relies on your own good judgement as far as portions go. I have a feeling some of you might panic when you read that, but rest assured that even I didn’t screw it up.

The cookbook does have the following measurements for those who can’t handle that. I only got 6 oysters and eyed the rest myself.

  • 2 dozen small to medium oysters, scrubbed in the shell
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup best-quality balsamic vinegar

The first step is to pre-heat your oven. Yes you read that right. These oyster pups are gonna get baked.


Don’t get excited, it’s not the kind of baked

Susan suggests that the best way to get the oysters baked is to arranged them on a baking sheet with the cup side down. Spreading salt on the sheet will help stabilize them if you have trouble keeping them balanced.

Once you place the oysters in the oven, you will bake for about 5 minutes. Remove them from the oven and then pry them open as carefully as possible. Once you’ve pried them open, you can remove the outer shell.

The proper consumption method is as follows, drizzle a touch of butter. (When I say touch, I truly mean a miniscule amount. It won’t take much.) The final step is to add 2 to 3 drops of vinegar. You are now prepared for slurping! Enjoy!


The butter can’t compete with the oyster’s sexiness





Oyster Stew

This oyster stew comes from French Farmhouse Cookbook. If you’re a dumb American like me, you’re probably thinking it’s like a beef stew or like clam chowder only with oysters. It’s not. It’s simple in a bare minimum kind of way.

All it consists of is oysters in a crème fraîche and egg yolk mix.

This cookbook throws in some interesting history that is quite complicated unlike the stew.

For the history lesson, the author focuses on the region known as Brittany. The history of Brittany consists of a lot of unfortunate conquering starting with the Romans. The author notes that locals find roman artifacts from time to time. One artifact proved that the Romans enjoyed the oysters of Brittany just as much as modern people do.

When the Roman empire died out, the British moved in. In fact that’s why it’s called Brittany. Little Britain was used as a meeting grounds in the decades and decades of fighting between France and Britain. It’s funny that in present day we think of Britain and France as being weak compared to the US and Russia, but back in the day Britain and France were the equivalent of that comparison.

Their bitter rivalry is partly how the United States won the Revolutionary War.France and Britain were the most formidable armies at the time. Both wanted to conquer North America and Britain had just won some colonies in Canada. So when France caught wind that the U.S. was unhappy and wanted independence they were more than glad to help. They did so at first, by supplying the U.S. weapons underhand. Once the U.S. gained some ground, than France joined the fight openly.

This history was not mentioned in the cookbook, but I wanted to mention it because I’m an American and it fascinates me how power dynamics can change. It’s kind of comforting to me that every nation could have it’s due, so to speak. I wish that we could learn from other countries mistakes, though. The infinite pissing contest of who  gets the power is exhausting and futile in the end.

As far as the history of oysters go, Brittany has had some hard times in that area as well. The author spoke to an Oyster fisherman, who told her about how one year many of the oysters became diseased and the farmers of Brittany had to turn to Japan for help. It worked, but the supply of oysters changed. The main staple of Brittany oysters are now a French-Japanese variety.

Then she speaks of a farmer who grows his oysters on an estuary in Breton. These oysters are highly valued, due to the difficulty to raise them without becoming diseased. There is a lot of meticulous factors that I find difficult to explain in regards to cultivating the right food, temperature, and more when growing oysters.

I had no idea oyster farming was so difficult. Thankfully this recipe isn’t.

Here’s what you need

  • 3/4 of oyster liquor
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 1/2 cups of crème fraîche or heavy whipping cream
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 24 medium oysters, shucked
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh chives

Before you begin, I should note that I ended up going to a Korean grocery store and was able to find bottled oysters. This makes the shucking and liquor process a million times easier.

Whichever way you get your oysters the first step in making this stew is to cook the liquor and water in a saucepan over medium heat. You’ll want to bring this into a simmer and then whisk in the eggs and the  crème fraîche. I used heavy whipping cream but I do recommend using crème fraîche if you can. It’s delicious.

As you whisk everything together, reduce the heat to medium-low. Whisk away some more until it thickens. This can take about 4 minutes.

The next step is to add the oysters. Stir them until their mantles furl a little. The mantles are the outer edges of the oyster. This process should take 2-3 minutes.

Once those oysters are cooked, you are ready to serve! Do so by placing them in a shallow bowl and sprinkling the chives on top.

I thought mine turned out well. I would have loved to have tried it with crème fraîche though. I’m still not into oysters either. I think they might be too juicy for me. I love mussels and I feel like mussels are similar. Mussels are also smaller so maybe that’s why? I’m not sure, but as I’ve said with other recipes, if you like this kind of thing then you’ll probably like the recipe.

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Despite the fact that I used whipping cream, this was still quite fresh.

Oysters on a Half Shell

Like the mighty Aphrodite, fully formed from Zeus’s brow, the oyster is a symbol of femininity. It is an aphrodisiac too, so I imagine Aphrodite was a big fan of oysters. I am not a fan of oysters. As a child I was even terrified of them. I have distinct memories of my entire family sitting at a round table at some restaurant in Florida staring at a plate full of oysters with amorous eyes. My family, a group of people I should be able to trust were waving the oysters in my face! Tempting me to try them! I just sat in disgust as they slurped and slopped up their oysters with delight. They weren’t going to make me do something I didn’t want to do! I was a stubborn rebel like that.

I’m honestly not sure why I was afraid though. Perhaps I was traumatized by that bit in Alice in Wonderland where the Walrus and the carpenter trick those poor oyster children into their bellies. I mean that was some messed up stuff.

So when I came to this recipe from French Farmhouse Cookbook, I almost skipped it. I tried to justify it to myself even, because it’s not really a recipe. It’s just an intro on how to eat oysters. After much deliberation, I  realized that I needed to be adventurous and try new things because that’s what I love about life. So I took the plunge and ended up buying 6 oysters from LA Fish Mart in downtown LA.

The actual “recipe” calls for 2 dozen oysters, fresh seaweed or Swiss chard, 1 lemon, pepper, and sea salt. I didn’t want to eat nor buy that many obviously.

Anyway, the cookbook mentions to be selective about your oysters and even has a bit about Mareenes-Oleron oysters and how the labeling isn’t always accurate. So, I checked out some reviews on Yelp and discovered LA Fish Market. When I got there, I was shown four types of oysters from all over the world. They had some from Washington, Japan, and New Zealand. The Japanese ones were expensive as were the Washington ones. I can’t remember what the other type was. I just remember it was bigger than the others, so I went with the New Zealand ones since they were a good size and reasonably priced.

My book also recommend shucking my oysters on my own so they would be extremely fresh and I thought I’d try this out as well.

The term shucking,by the way, makes me think of when you buy a Christmas tree from a tree farm and they put it in that machine that supposedly shakes all the spare needles off. So I imagined something similar, only with oysters.

Shucking isn’t anything like that. All shucking is, is prying the shells apart. This process isn’t easy but It’s not too difficult either. It is recommended that you use a special shucking knife, but if you are a tightwad and/or just too lazy to buy one, you can do what I did and use a small curved knife.

Be careful though! I was lucky and didn’t harm myself, but I had to use a lot of force at times and could have easily slipped and cut myself. So make sure you cut away from your hands when you do this. This process also gets messy, so I recommend having a towel handy.

Anyway, to shuck, you just look for any space you can in the oyster shell. Once you do, you stab the knife in and then kind of curve it around until you can pry it open.

After being pried you just open the oysters and break them in half. After that, there’s not much else to do but cut your lemon into wedges and present the oysters on a bed of ice with lettuce or seaweed.

I decided to put mine on Swiss chard, but if you’re not planning on presenting the oysters to impress others, it’s not necessary to get any kind of greens. It’s more for show.

I have to admit the presentation does look nice though.

As I mentioned, I was nervous about trying the oysters. I squeezed a healthy portion of lemon on mine and sprinkled some pepper and sea salt. I closed my eyes, prayed to Aphrodite and took a bite. It wasn’t bad! I didn’t love it, but I wasn’t repulsed either.

In the end, oysters aren’t my thing, but I wouldn’t mind trying a different type in the future. I’m just a pepper and asparagus kind of girl. Sorry Aphrodite!


Oysters being all sexy and such.