Wednesday, 19 November 2008
It seems like ions ago when I disliked oysters. It wasn’t though.
The moment I realised I loved oysters was lunch on the 3 of October 2005 at Otto Ristorante in Woolloomooloo (yes, that is a real suburb in Sydney).
I wasn’t going to try the slimey things, since every time I’d done it before I’d wanted to wretch, but Fabio made me do it. Apart from being 50% of the team that introduced me to my husband, it’s the best thing he’s ever done for me.
Since then I’ve been mad for them. Crazy. Loco.
A year later I enrolled myself in a forum devoted entirely to their worship. So, you could say I’m a bit of an oyster fan now.
With that in mind, you’ll understand why my knees weakened when I first saw this recipe in Gourmet Traveller and why I made it my top priority to devour it as soon as possible.
I love natural oysters, but in the colder months they are superb grilled. I also think parmesan is a perfect match for grilled oysters because it’s equally strong, salty and can hold its own against the molluscs.
And with two punchy ingredients the only thing to do is bring out a third: horseradish. Let the battle begin!
So, if all that rambling wasn’t clear, it was a great recipe. I’ll make it again.
Oysters Baked w Horseradish & Parmesan
Recipe by Steve Rofe at Café di Stasio. Serves 4.
250g salted butter, softened to room temperature
175g finely grated parmesan
100g finely grated fresh horseradish (about 3 large horseradish)
24 Tasmanian Pacific oysters, freshly shucked
Finely chopped flat-leaf parsley and lemon wedges, to serve
1. Combine butter and 125gm parmesan in a bowl, rub in butter with your fingers.
2. Gradually add horseradish and combine with your hands until pliable. Season to taste.
3. Preheat oven to 230’C.
4. Top oysters with enough butter mixture to fill.
5. Place in a deep roasting pan, scatter with remaining cheese and bake until dark golden (15-20 minutes).
6. Scatter with parsley and serve with lemon.
Note: If fresh horseradish is unavailable, substitute with 150gm jarred horseradish. If you can’t get hold of Tassie Pacifics, use any large oyster.
Horseradish (Armoracia rusticana, syn. Cochlearia armoracia) is a member of the Brassicaceae family alongside fiery counterparts such as mustard and wasabi, as well as meeker cabbage.
It’s believed that horseradish was native to eastern Europe and western Asia. The Greek sun god Apollo was convinced by an Oracle of it’s values, murals of horseradish were forever frozen in the ashes of Pompeii, Egyptians recorded their uses for it, Shakespeare waxed lyrical in his literature and Jews use it to celebrate Passover.
Fresh horseradish should be used quickly or steeped in vinegar to prevent bitterness caused by contact with oxygen and heat.
Although the leaves can also be used, the most prized part of the horseradish is the white, tapered root which produces allyl isothiocyanate (mustard oil), creating the eye watering, nose tingling flavour.
In Japan, expensive wasabi is faked by dying horseradish green, although this practice takes place more often outside Japan and is therefore known as seiyōwasabi or "Western wasabi".
Horseradish’s mustard oils make it an antibiotic and 100g of raw horseradish delivers some 79.31mg of vitamin C.
An enzyme found in horseradish has become important to molecular biologists and biochemists researching antibody detection and horseradish has also been known to have positive effects on ingrown toenails, flatulence, digestion, urinary tract infections as well as respiratory and sinus infections. It is also believed that a diet high in Brassicaceae family members leads to a reduced risk of gastrointestinal cancer.
Horseradish tastes wonderful with seafood and lovely with roast beef. There’s nothing I love more than a salad of rocket, potatoes, roast beef and a horseradish dressing.
This week, our Weekend Herb Blogging host is Siri from Siri's Corner. Check out all the goodies on her blog.
References & Photos
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