September is another great month in the British food calendar and the month we celebrate our native oyster season.
The native is the oyster lover’s oyster, and has different characteristics than the more common rock oyster. The shape is rounder and flatter and slower growing, hence the more intense flavour, with characteristics of iron and minerals.
You may well end up paying twice as much for natives over rocks, but it’s worth ordering both in a restaurant to get a good idea of the difference. All of our oysters from the many oyster fisheries around the coast will have different flavour profiles depending on where they are grown, rather like the terroir in wine making.
On 16 September we’re hosting a mini oyster festival at HIX Oyster and Chop House, where a host of oyster growers, suppliers and chefs will be shucking, talking, drinking and sharing their knowledge of the oyster, so come along and celebrate with us.
Here are a couple of simple dressings to serve with oysters, although I do advocate eating natives just as they are.
Shallot vinegar recipe
- 4 medium shallots, peeled, halved and finely chopped
- 150ml good quality red wine vinegar
- A few turn of black pepper
Mix all of the ingredients together and store in a non reactive container for up to 48 hours.
Ponzu and chilli dressing recipe
- 1 small green or red chilli, finely diced
- A small piece of root ginger (20g), scraped and finely diced
- A few stalks of coriander, finely chopped
- 1 small shallot, peeled, halved and finely diced
- 100-120ml ponzu