Steamed Oysters with Ginger and Shallots
Easy - You got this!
In Australia, oysters are mostly consumed raw or with condiments but this is rarely the case in Vietnamese cooking. There are many ways we like to prepare them and steamed oysters with ginger and shallots (spring onions) is a Cantonese classic that’s made its way into many homes in Southern Vietnam. A surprise to many, Chinese heritage is quite prevalent in Vietnam which you can read more about in the preface to my Lobster stir fry recipe. Though distinct in flavours, the commonality in both cultures is their obsession with texture.
I grew up indulging in this oyster recipe. Mum would buy a dozen oysters and grimace as I knocked back the first two raw (without lemon!) to appreciate their natural beauty. With my tick of approval for quality and freshness, the remaining ten oysters would then be steamed. Steaming oysters retains its natural sweetness and briny flavour and alters its texture from slimy and viscous to slightly chewy and soft. Bruny Island oysters, Coffin Bay oysters or Smoky Bay oysters are hands down my most preferred for steaming.
Seafood in Vietnam is often grilled on coal, boiled, sautéed or steamed with lots of herbaceous flavours, and served with a fresh and fragrant dipping sauce; this recipe is no exception. The oysters are steamed until they’re plump and juicy then paired with one of the Chinese culinary world’s most iconic fragrant duos: ginger and spring onions. To finish, they’re dressed with a delicate sweet and savoury soy based concoction that’s enhanced with the natural juices from the steamed oysters. Similar to how Rockefeller oysters and Kilpatrick oysters are served, the texture of the cooked oyster is paired with a sauce, something crispy or crunchy, and a natural fat or oil to carry flavour and enhance fragrance.
So, if you like oysters Kilpatrick or oysters Rockefeller, do yourself a favour and give these delectable steamed oysters a whirl to experience their unique balance of flavours.
1 dozen oysters, opened
¼ bunch spring onions (tops and bottom removed) finely sliced lengthways (4-5 cm long)*
40g ginger, julienned
35 ml cooking oil
½ bunch coriander, roughly chopped (optional)
1. Prepare ginger and spring onions, keeping them in a large bowl of cold water as you go to make sure they stay crisp and fresh, then strain just before using.
2. In a large steamer or steam oven, steam oysters for 6-7 minutes, then remove and place on a serving plate.
3. While waiting for the oysters to steam, in a small saucepan or pot bring soy sauce, chicken stock, water and sugar to the boil, then set aside.
4. Garnish oysters generously with ginger and shallots with 2 teaspoons of sauce (warm up again if necessary) to allow the ginger and shallots to begin to wilt.
5. In a small pot or milk pan, bring cooking oil to smoking point, watch carefully and remove from heat immediately.
6. Safely, pour hot oil over each oyster to further wilt the ginger and shallots, and release their fragrance.
7. Serve with an empty bowl or plate to make sure you don’t lose any of the juices. A great entrée before moving onto my lobster tail and snow peas stir fry with ginger sauce and steamed rice.