Appetizers & Snacks

Oysters on the half shell

Oysters on the half shell |

Of all the local seafood, the oyster is my favorite. While shucking the shells isn’t exactly a fun thing to do, eating the oysters with nothing but a squeeze of kalamansi is simply divine. When I was a child, my father would buy oysters by the sack, wash and scrub them clean, place them in a huge basin then pour boiling water over them. He would strain them after a few minutes and start shucking them almost immediately. All that my brother and I had to do was to eat them off their shells. Sometimes, we would remove the meat with a fork then dunk them on a mixture of vinegar, salt and garlic. No one has shucked oysters for me since my father died. Unfortunately, my husband does not touch them (he says he always catches a fever when he eats oysters) and our daughters find them repulsive. Tough. Their loss, not mine.

I bought a kilo of oysters yesterday, about a dozen pieces or so, for PhP 50.00 (less than a dollar) and ate them all by myself. No more vinegar-salt-garlic dipping sauce for me these days. I prefer to squeeze a few drops of kalamansi over them and eat them off the shells.

To prepare oysters, place them in a large pan and put the pan under the tap. Change the water several times. Then use a stiff brush to scrub each shell to remove sand, moss and mud. Rinse them well. Place them in a clean pan or bowl then pour boiling water over them. Let them sit in the hot bath for a few minutes–a minute if you like them almost raw; 2-3 minutes if you want them a little more cooked. Remember that cooking them all the way will make them shrink to just a fraction of their original size. Much of the flavor will be lost as well.

Use a sturdy pointed knife to open the shells. Discard the empty halves. Serve them with slices of kalamansi (lemon or lime) on the side. Squeeze some juice onto each oyster just before eating it.

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