Jamie Nicholson, head chef at Loch Fyne Oysters, gives us his guide on how to prepare and enjoy oysters as well as a wonderful recipe for crispy oysters with horseradish mayonnaise

The oysters that we stock in our restaurant, deli and supply into restaurants across the UK are grown naturally, on the shore at Ardkinglas at the head of Loch Fyne, and by our partner growers in Argyll and the Islands.

We are so lucky to have these partners on our doorstep; they truly are artisans of the sea in our modern age.

So that we can eat with the seasons, different sites have their peak at different times of the year. Our Ardkinglas oysters are at their best from spring until early winter when they can lose condition as high rainfall floods into the loch.

In the Islands, by contrast, higher salinity helps to hold condition in the winter but the stock can become too ‘fat’ in the summer. So a cyclical movement of harvesting sites brings consistency while preserving the subtle changes of taste that go along with
each season.
At all our selected sites, the oysters feed entirely on plankton. There is no artificial input, of feed or anything else, at any stage. This is an entirely sustainable activity.

How to prepare and eat oysters – a quick guide

LFO4412Arisaig Oysters2

Step 1
Rinse the oysters with drinking water prior to opening.

Step 2
Hold the oyster cupped side down on a firm surface with the pointed hinge end facing you. You may find it helpful to place a folded tea-towel or cloth on top of the oyster.

Step 3
Place the tip of a short blunt strong bladed knife at the hinge of the shell at an angle of approximately 45°.
Press hard while wiggling the knife until the tip has entered the shell.

Step 4
Once the knife blade is inside the shell, make a sweeping cut under the top lid to loosen the oyster and remove the top shell.

Step 5
Loosen the oyster meat from the bottom of the shell by gently running the knife under the flesh. Once open, eat the oysters within one hour.

Step 6
Eat “au naturel” or add lemon juice, vinegar seasoning or Tabasco sauce. Chew two or three times before swallowing or not if you prefer—each to their own!

Alternatively, why not try our recipe for deep-fried oysters below.

Recipe for Crispy Oysters with Horseradish Mayonnaise

Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 2

LFO4443DF Oysters Horeradish Mayo

Ingredients

• ½ dozen oysters
• 200g mayonnaise
• 40g freshly grated horseradish root
• 1 egg
• 100g plain flour
• 100g Panko Japanese style breadcrumbs
• Vegetable oil for frying

Method

1 Carefully open the oysters and remove the oyster meat from the shells.

2 Clean the oyster shells thoroughly and set to the side.

3 Crack the egg into a bowl and whisk with a fork.

4 Coat the oyster meat in the plain flour, dip into the whisked egg and then into the breadcrumbs.

5 In a separate bowl, add the grated horseradish to the mayonnaise and mix together.

6 Put the frying oil in to a deep, heavy-bottomed pan (fill to about 6cm deep) and heat to 180°c. You can test the oil is hot enough by dropping in a piece of bread. If it turns golden within about 30 seconds the oil is hot enough.

7 Deep fry the bread-crumbed oysters and rest them on a piece of kitchen roll for a moment to absorb any excess oil.

8 To present, place each oyster inside one of the clean oyster shells.

9 Top each with a teaspoon of the horseradish mayonnaise.

10 Matches perfectly with a glass of chilled Champagne!

About The Author

Jamie, originally from Helensburgh, has been a chef for 17 years. He trained with MacDonald Hotels and started his career at the 5 star Cameron House Hotel on Loch Lomond. It was here that Jamie met legendary chef Albert Roux and was invited to work as a stagiaire in his Michelin starred restaurant LeGavroche. Jamie returned to Scotland to progress his career in luxury fine dining establishments including Glasgow’s esteemed One Devonshire Gardens. He is passionate about high quality local produce, and letting the seasons determine what goes on the plate. Jamie joined Loch Fyne Oysters three years ago, works closely with suppliers and has a strong understanding of fish and shellfish. Skills which ensure the growth and fine reputation of the world famous Oyster Bar at Cairndow

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