The Daily Telegraph - Saturday
OYSTERS WITH RED WINE VINEGAR AND SHALLOTS
75ml red wine vinegar ½ shallot, very finely diced 12 rock oysters 1 lemon, cut into 4 pieces Tabasco sauce
Mix the red wine vinegar with the chopped shallot in a ramekin. Set aside. To open the oysters, first make sure the cup side of the shell is on the bottom and the flat side on the top. Have a tea towel in your left hand for protection if the knife slips, and the oyster knife in your right hand (do the opposite if you are left-handed). Set the oyster on a secure surface. With the tip of the oyster knife, probe around the hinge of the two shells. Go in slightly to the side. Move the knife from side to side, probing until you can feel a pop, which is the vacuum in the shell being released. Do not twist the oyster knife but instead move from side to side looking for a way in. If you find you are using a lot of force, stop and go in again. You will not need a huge amount of force to break the vacuum. When you are in the oyster, slide your knife to remove the top shell from the meat. Then get your knife under the oyster and cut the muscle from the bottom shell. I turn the oyster to present the neatly cut side.
Serve on a large plate of crushed ice or seaweed – your fishmonger should be able to help here.
Set out the shallot vinegar, lemon wedges for squeezing, and bottle of Tabasco sauce for people to help themselves, and serve. If you don’t have success opening your oysters with a knife, put the oysters on a baking sheet and put into a 140C/120C fan/Gas 1 oven. The oysters will open after a few minutes.
Keep a close eye on them and remove as soon as the shell opens – the amount of time will vary with each oyster and they will still need help removing the oyster from the shell. When they are all open, free the oysters from the shells, put them back in the bottom shell and then put them in the fridge to chill. Try to reserve as much of the juice as possible throughout the process. Serve with the vinegar.