Valentine’s Day Oysters with Kimchi Puree and Asian Pear & Pepper

oysters with kimchi puree and asian pear & pepper

It’s Valentine’s Day and you know what that means: oysters! If you’re not into sickly-sweet Hallmark holidays, then I now declare February 14th Shuck Your Own Oyster Day. Oysters are a delectable treat you can share with your loved ones or, if you want, it can be just you and a dozen perfectly shucked oysters. Actually, that kind of sounds appetizing; sometimes it’s hard to share.

I like oysters and I like them raw, but I’ve never shucked an oyster before. Most of my oyster eating experiences are in restaurants, so it was kind of exciting to pick up some oysters to try shucking them myself.

bowl of oysters

I bought a dozen BC Little Wing oysters from Whole Foods, which is fast becoming my favourite place to go to for seafood. The fishmongers are all really friendly and knowledgeable. I overheard someone asking about the oysters and the dude just started picking through them and identifying them by sight. The varieties were all mixed up and he was just going through identifying each one.

oysters in the shell

The Little Wing oysters were on sale for Valentine’s day and they were sweet, fresh and delicious. The fish dude said that they were similar to kumamotos, which are sweet and buttery.

If you’re planning to shuck your own oysters and top them with something, you should have your toppings ready before you start to shuck. That way your oysters stay nice and fresh in the fridge while you blunder your way through your first one (or five, in my case).

kimchi puree

For the garnishes, I decided on kimchi puree and pickled Asian pear and black pepper. The kimchi puree is made just the way it is for the brussels sprouts: put kimchi in blender and puree. The Asian pear pickle is finely chopped and mixed with a bit of pickling juice and pepper.

pickled asian pear and pepper

Shucking sounds really simple, but it took me an absurdly long time to get it right and I got plenty hot in the process. All you do is take your oyster knife and put it into the hinge and turn it. Simple, right? I read through Chang’s instructions 7 times and watched a youtube video, but even still, Mike shucked the first oyster and had to show me how it was done.

popping open the hinge

After I figured it out, I monopolized the oysters, not letting Mike shuck any more. I used a little paring knife to separate the oysters from the shells, but nearer to the end I found it easier to use the oyster knife.

I’m not the world’s greatest oyster shucker, but I am a great oyster eater! The toppings were nice, but not mind-blowing. Personally, I think the best ways to enjoy fresh oysters is naked.

Oysters are a juicy treat: fruity, sweet, and refreshing. Once you know how to shuck them yourself, you just do it as you go. That’s what we ended up doing, shucking on the counter and popping them in our mouths kind of like sunflower seeds; pop them open and then pop them in.


5 Comments add yours

  1. I really enjoyed my own oyster shucking experience at the Hog Island Oyster “farm” (link at end of post.) We were able to purchase oysters while watching fishermen bringing in their catches. It was very cool. We were totally unprepared for the experience and thus we ate the oysters naked because we had no other option, but the oysters were by far the most flavorful I have ever eaten. I always think it a shame when I can’t taste the oyster over the garnish.

    Great blog! I got the Momofuku cookbook from my brother for christmas but I have been traveling ever sense and haven’t been able to prepare any meals out of it!

    Don’t feel too sorry for me however, as I have been having the culinary journey of my life! I am blogging about it at:

    I will continue to follow your blog and I have added a link to your feed from my own blog.

  2. I’m glad to see you enjoyed our oysters. Just so you know, I take great care of the oysters I look after. I love oysters and eat a sample of every shipment I send to the city. That way I can be reasonably confident that you’ll like them. I’ll do things on the farm that gives me a lot of extra work just so the oysters are not stressed and can feed better.

    About the shucking, most oyster knifes sold are not sharp enough for the small oysters so try sharpening them a bit with a file. They don’t need to be razor sharp but not smooth either.

    The Little Wings were delicious! Do you regularly sell them at Whole Foods? Thanks for the tip about the oyster knife!

    steph on February 18th, 2010 at 1:40 pm
  3. I’m not sure if Whole Foods buy some every week. I rely on Albion for the distribution as I’m too far away to do it myself.
    Whole Food did very well with their Valentine Day promo. They ran out Saturday and had to order again so I’m hopping they will carry them all the time.

    Thanks for writing about it!

    No problem, the oysters were delicious and a great price!

    steph on February 22nd, 2010 at 1:11 am
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