Oyster recipes: Ireland's finest

You know the golden rule about oysters right? Never eat them in a month without an ‘r’ in the name

You know the story. When the water gets warm, it’s time to leave those oysters in peace (something about the build-up of toxins when the water gets warmer)…That’s why ‘most’ oyster purveyors leave things be until the letter ‘r’ rolls in… In fact, a lot of oyster odyssey destinations start their shucking in earnest during the month of September.

But we don’t have that problem in Ireland- it never gets that warm around the shoreline here.   As a result, we start the oyster shenanigans a lot earlier. In fact, the acclaimed Carlingford Oyster Festival breaks this rule by marveling at the mollusc around mid-August.

So to top off the celebrations, we thought we’d ask a couple of the top chefs involved in the Oyster festivities to give us their extra-special oyster recipes just for you!

The Festival: Carlingford Oyster Festival

The Carlingford Oyster Festival takes place from the 11th to the 14th of August 2017. From lively street entertainment, artesian food stalls and magic shows, it is a four day epic festival that is suitable for all members of the family!

The Chef: Danny Millar

Feeling hungry? Don’t worry Chef Danny Millar has concocted the perfect Oyster recipe! Millar is renowned for the recipes he creates.

A competitor shucking at The Galway International Oyster Festival

The Recipe: Tempura of oyster on wilted spinach with soy and ginger dressing

Serves 4

Ingredients:

For the Soy and ginger dressing

  • (1/2 cup) light soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp caster sugar
  • 1 green shallot, end trimmed, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1 fresh red bird’s eye chilli, deseeded and thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp fresh lime juice

For the oysters

  • 7 oz fresh spinach
  • Knob of butter
  • Salt and pepper for seasoning
  • 24 oysters

For the Tempura batter

  • 3.5oz corn flour
  • 5.3oz plain flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • Enough ice cold sparkling water to make batter (should coat your finger)

Method

1. Combine ingredients for dressing in a small pot and stir until the sugar dissolves

2. Wilt spinach in a pan with a knob of butter and seasoning

3. Open oysters and clean shells

4. Place a small amount of wilted spinach in each shell

5. Mix together the Tempura batter ingredients until smooth enough to coat your finger

6. Heat a deep-fat fryer to 350 degrees

7. Batter oysters in Tempura batter and deep fry each for 2 mins

8. Lightly drizzle with the soy and ginger dressing and serve warm

The Festivals: Clarenbridge Oyster Festival, County Galway, 5-8 October 2017/Galway International Oyster Festival, 22-24 September 2017

Another oyster hotspot is County Galway where the Clarenbridge Oyster Festival will take place, swiftly followed by the prestigious Galway International Oyster Festival. The proximity to the Atlantic Ocean plays a big role for both of these fun events – and they know their stuff. After all, they’ve been harvesting the molluscs for centuries!

The Chef: Brendan Keane

Using Clarenbridge’s own oysters, Brendan Keane (a Good Food Ireland Approved Provider from The Malt House in Galway city), has rustled up his own oyster supper for you to taste…

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The Recipe: Clarenbridge Oyster Arancini

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 12 Clarenbridge oysters
  • 1.8oz finely diced shallots/spring onions
  • 14oz pearl barley
  • 4/5 cups Guinness
  • Sprig of fresh thyme
  • Sprig of fresh rosemary
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 9oz grated Killeen goats’ cheese
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 2/5 cup milk
  • 1.8oz plain flour
  • 3.5oz Spanish Point seaweed powder
  • Salt and pepper for seasoning
  • 3.5oz chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 7 tbsp Donegal rapeseed oil

Method

1. Open oyster and remove from the shell, store in a clean container with the juices.

2. Sweat off the diced shallot in a saucepan, add the pearl barley, followed by the Guinness, thyme and rosemary.

3. Stir until the Guinness has almost entirely evaporated.

4. Ladle by ladle, slowly add the boiling vegetable stock, continuously stirring the mixture until the barley is just cooked

5. Fold in the grated cheese, spread the mixture on a tray and allow to cool.

6. When the mixture has cooled, wearing kitchen gloves, shape it into about 8 inch diameter balls, make an indentation into each with your finger and insert an oyster, reshape the arancini balls to their original shape.

7. To make the eggwash: mix together the beaten egg and milk. Gently coat the arancini using the eggwash, flour, the Spanish Point seaweed powder and a little seasoning.

8. Blend together the chopped parsley, lemon juice and rapeseed oil and put in a squeeze bottle.

9. In clean oil, deep-fry the arancini for two minutes, strain on kitchen paper, and place each one into the cleaned half oyster shell. 

10. Drizzle with the lemon and parsley oil and serve hot

With some fresh Irish soda or brown bread on the side, between these two dishes, you can recreate some of Ireland’s oyster magic at home. But as always, the origin of the recipe is always the sweetest.

Bon appétit from everyone in Ireland!

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