Oysters are one of those foods that can take some getting used to, just like red wine or black coffee. You might turn your nose up as a kid, but by the time you've reached your mid-twenties, there is a distinct possibility that you can't get enough of them. Or maybe you still hate them but you could like them under the right circumstances. Even if old wives tales about oysters being an aphrodisiac doesn't lure you in, they still might be a dish worth trying. Oysters are a great source of many vitamins and minerals, which is probably how that old wives tale got started.

If you're convinced that oysters deserve a second shot, but don't want to fork out a large amount of money to sample them in a fancy restaurant, try cooking them at home. There are several methods you can use depending on your taste preferences and skill level. However the key thing when cooking oysters is to be sure to choose the freshest available and to discard any questionable morsels. Seafood perishes easily, but there are a couple of things to look out for that should help keep you safe. 

  • If an oyster does not open during cooking, do not attempt to eat it.
  • If an oyster opens too easily when you attempt to shuck it (remove it from it's shell) do not attempt to eat it.

With those facts in mind, it's time to get started. It's time to decide whether you would prefer your oysters steamed, roasted or fried.

Steamed oysters produce a simple, natural flavour that will allow you to sample the true taste of the sea while still being more palatable (and safer) than eating them raw. Steamed oysters are prepared simply by scrubbing the oysters clean and then suspending them over some boiling water with a lid to seal in the heat. Cooking should take about 5-10 minutes, and preparation is a breeze when compared to the other two methods.

Roasting can be almost as simple as steaming, or sometimes it can be much trickier. The oysters are cleaned before being placed on a medium-high grill for 5-10 minutes with the lid closed. However, oysters can be roasted in their shell and seasoned after cooking, or they can be shucked beforehand and seasoned prior to cooking. Shucking is time consuming and can be tricky to master, but it does provide the benefit of being able to let the oysters marinate in butter and garlic or soy sauce and other tasty herbs and spices while cooking. 

Frying could be the best option for somebody who isn't completely sold on the taste or texture of oysters just yet. Unfortunately, frying will require you to go to the effort of shucking your oysters. Freshly shucked oysters are dipped in egg and rolled in a mixture of flour, salt and black pepper before being thrown into 190°C oil. They are cooked for two minutes until golden brown and then served piping hot. 

Here are a few more key tips to remember:

  • Use a shucking knife to prevent injuries when removing oysters from their shells
  • Your oysters should be purchased and eaten in a timely manner; less than 36 hours
  • They should be stored in a cool, damp place like your refrigerator, but not a wet one like your cooler
  • Oysters should only be cleaned right before cooking and should be eaten as soon as possible after preparation

For more information, see http://www.westnfreshseafood.com.au.