The Louisiana oysters-they're best by the dozen, cold and salty, with cocktail sauce and crackers, or just a little hot sauce and a cold beer. But for every traditional oyster preparation, there's one less expected and just as tasty. Try them panneed, charbroiled or baked.
They can be eaten on the half shell, raw, smoked, boiled, baked, fried, roasted, stewed, canned, pickled, steamed, broiled or used in a variety of drinks. Preparation widely varies. It can be as simple as opening the shell and eating the contents, including juice. Butter and salt are often added. In the case of Rockefeller, preparation can be very elaborate. They are sometimes served on edible seaweed, such as brown algae.
The species, especially 'wild', are excellent sources of several minerals, including iron, zinc and selenium, which are often low in the modern diet. They are also an excellent source of Vitamin B12. They are considered the healthiest when eaten raw on the half shell.
If fresh they must be alive just before consumption or cooking. There is a simple criterion: the oyster must be capable of tightly closing its shell. Open species should be tapped on the shell: a live species will close up and is safe to eat. Those which are open and unresponsive are dead and must be discarded. Some dead ones, or shells which are full of sand may be closed. These make a distinctive noise when tapped, and are known as clackers.
Opening them requires skill. The preferred method is to use a special knife, with a short and thick blade about 5 centimetres (2.0 in) long.
Insert the blade, with moderate force and vibration if necessary, at the hinge between the two valves. Then twist the blade until there is a slight pop. Then slide the blade upward to cut the adductor muscle which holds the shell closed. Inexperienced shuckers can apply too much force, which can result in injury if the blade slips. Heavy gloves are necessary: apart from the knife, the shell itself can be razor sharp. Professional shuckers require less than 3 seconds to do the deed.
If they have a particularly soft shell, the knife can be inserted instead in the sidedoor, about halfway along one side where the lips widen and there is a slight indentation.
Opening, or "shucking" has become a competitive sport. Shucking competitions are staged around the world.
There are many Oyster Festivals around the world. The Amite Festival is held in Amite Louisiana in March. The new Acme Festival was held in The French Quarter the weekend of June 5th. They are a valuable part of the Louisiana's economy.More than a third of the nation's crop come from our Louisiana waters.
Best Recipe-Charbrolied Oysters from Drago's
1/2 dozen Louisiana oysters
1 Tbsp. butter garlic sauce (see recipe)
Parmesan cheese & Romano cheese
Chef: Tommy Cvitanovich, Drago's
On outside grill, place half dozen (on the halfshell).
Put 1 Tbsp. butter garlic sauce (see recipe) and sprinkle Parmesan cheese and Romano cheese on each and allow to saute in shell till they curl. Serve hot.
Caution: We recommend cooking on an outside grill because of intense heat and smoke. "And of course, you can add additional flavor to any Louisiana Seafood recipe with a few shakes of TABASCO brand Pepper Sauce."
BUTTER GARLIC SAUCE
10 ounces melted margerine or butter
1 Tbsp. black pepper, white pepper, granulated garlic
3 Tbsp. minced garlic
Chef: Tommy Cvitanovich, Drago's
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