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The Independent Weekly
June 4 - 10, 2010
Ann Oliver firstname.lastname@example.org
It really annoys me that more
restaurants don t open their own
We have some of the best oysters
in the world, grown in some of the
cleanest waters in the world, not
too far from our city restaurants.
So, why do so many restaurants
buy opened oysters and leave them
languishing in the fridge for days
before they are sold? Worse yet,
when they are almost off, they serve
them cooked, especially Kilpatrick
To be fair, there are some restau-
rants in this city that sell so many
oysters they get a daily delivery
of just-shucked oysters. What is
not sold on the day of opening is
served the following day in cooked
oyster dishes. This is an acceptable
practice, but sadly a rare one, and
unfortunately most commercial
oyster shuckers wash their oysters
in tap water. Naughty!
Chefs hate oysters Kilpatrick but
the public loves them. In the oyster
season and well beyond, the recipe
for oysters Kilpatrick stays high in
the top 10 downloaded recipes on my
site. I love them, too, but the great
difference is that when we make
Kilpatrick, the oysters have been
opened for no longer than 24 hours at
the very most, not several days.
Eating oysters in a restaurant
is similar to eating fish in a
restaurant: there has to be a bond of
trust between restaurant and diner.
Fresh is meant to be fresh.
When we have oysters at home,
a guest will often pronounce that
they don t eat raw oysters. This
generally means their first taste
of a raw oyster was either in a
restaurant of ill repute or between
December and February, when
they are at their spawning worst.
There is no comparison between
the sweet, salty, clean, cold taste of a
just-shucked perfect oyster and the
nasty, bitter, metallic taste of the
In Europe, diners do not expect
to see an oyster in the off-season,
but in Australia the change of
flavour due to the change of season
barely dents their sales -- mainly, we
suspect, because oysters Kilpatrick
mask the flavour.
In 98, when we first served
oysters natural with a slither of a
lime segment and Tobiko wasabi
flying fish roe, it was a revolution in
oyster taste and one we have never
tired off. The tiny, palate-pricking,
spicy wasabi-flavoured roe, the
fresh-cut lime and oyster is a
sublime combination and one we
often serve. Our favourite remains
natural with finely chopped shallots
and fresh-strained lemon juice or
quality red-wine vinegar laced with
plenty of pepper.
There is a lot of argument about
which oyster knife is best but I
prefer the long-bladed Dexter-
Russell and keep it super-sharp.
A mesh glove is about $150 and is
the safest option. You can use a
thick glove, which is what most
professional shuckers use, but they
have skills the rest of us rarely
gain. A nasty gash in my left hand
was sufficient to convince me that
shucking oysters without some sort
of protection is an accident waiting
to happen. A small block of wood
with a hollowed-out side or a thick
piece of sponge will help keep the
oyster level and stop it from losing
its liquor while shucking.
Killer Col was a chef of very bad
behaviour. A breakfast chef, he
would come to work rheumy-eyed
and smelling of booze and fags,
having probably just fallen out of the
nearest strip club. Breakfast chefs
receive a tolerance not afforded to
other kitchen placements. A 3am
start is rarely attractive to normal
people and a breakfast chef without
a pile of anti-social habits is a
Worn out from revelry, Col
burned much of what he cooked,
but his Kilpatrick sauce recipe
with its feisty back-bite was part of
a legendary breakfast for anyone
else who had had a night on the
town. The bacon fat is an integral
part of a good Kilpatrick; the bacon
should have at least 40-50 per cent
fat-to-meat ratio and should be very
KILLER COL'S OYSTERS KILPATRICK
3 dozen oysters
2-3L cheap rock salt (see tips)
3 dozen freshly shucked oysters
175g HP sauce
500g Lea and Perrins Worcestershire
750g Schultz's meaty speck, finely
sliced and shredded (see tips)
3 lemons, quartered and pipped (cut
when you put the oysters under the grill)
Cover your grill tray with salt and sit
the oysters level in the salt. Mix the
HP sauce and Worcestershire sauce
together and spoon a big des-
sertspoon full onto each oyster, then
divide the speck over the top of the
oysters. Pre-heat your grill for at least
15 minutes -- it needs to be very hot so
the speck goes almost instantly crispy
while the cold shell will just have time
to warm through the oyster and set it
without shriveling the oysters. Serve
hot with the lemon wedges.
from Omega Foods for about $10 for
a 25kg bag. Regardless of the style
of oyster, the purpose of the salt is
to keep the oyster level and keep the
liquor or topping from spilling out.
and Schultz's meaty speck is a great
solution. It is still traditionally smoked
without chemicals and fake flavours.
Before I became a gentrified cook
obsessed with fresh and seasonal,
I sometimes used to make an excel-
lent fresh and smoked oyster soup
-- yes, with canned smoked oysters.
Given that we smoke everything
from quail, to cheese, to ducks and
duck breasts, why not oysters? All
you need is a hooded barbecue and
a rack that stands about 5cm above
For the smoke mix
200g brown sugar
50g Black China or Jasmin tea
Rind of 2 mandarins
20g whole cloves
20g fennel seeds
Pre-heat the barbecue for 15 minutes.
Working quickly, cover the grill with a
double layer of foil, spread the sugar
on top, then the tea and finally the
other ingredients. Close the hood
and set a timer for 8 minutes. In the
meantime, set the oysters on the
rack. When the timer goes, and as
long as the smoke mix has started
to smoke, put the rack on top of the
smoke mix and close the hood.
Set a timer for 15 minutes if you
have just shucked the oysters, or 20
minutes if they have been shucked
and in the fridge for a few hours.
When the timer goes, turn off the heat
and let stand for another 15 minutes.
These lightly smoked oysters
are scrumptious as a canap on
buttered toast with a little chopped
red onion and black pepper. They
can also be used in a salad, and they
give our New Orleans Oyster Soup a
More oyster recipes, including
the soup, can be found at www.
A fresh look at oysters
Diners love oysters Kilpatrick but fresh, natural
oysters are hard to beat.
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