Sunday, February 26, 2012

Oyster Cocktails

The original recipe calls for tomato catsup which may have been less, well, tomatoey, in the 1920s. I'm tempted to dilute today's supermarket variety of tomato sauce with a little water. Other oyster cocktail recipes omit the cream, so it's a fancy - and not necessarily improving - touch. Still others insist on adding the juice from the oyster shells. Rare these days, oyster cocktail glasses are similar to sherry or port glasses, but with a larger bulb and stumpy stem. Six oysters would sit in them nicely. As an alternative I'm trying shallow champagnes glasses of the type supposedly modelled on Marie Antoinette's breasts. The oysters could also be presented on entree plates with the sauce in a shallow dish in the centre. One of the Herald's Household Notes writers, "N.B.", had this to say about drinks: "Stout or water are the best liquids to accompany oysters, and it is important to remember that whisky or brandy should not be taken, as they harden the oysters and make them indigestible; on no account should tea follow oysters." These ones slipped down nicely with a sparking Cloudy Bay Pelorus Brut.

Oyster Cocktails

18 Sydney rock oysters (Pacific oysters did not exist, not in Sydney or Melbourne anyway)
2 tbsp tomato sauce
6 drops Tabasco
1 tbsp lemon juice or white wine vinegar
1 teasp Worchestershire sauce
2 teasp finely chopped celery
1/2 cup cream, whipped (optional)
Cayenne pepper

In a small bowl, mix together the tomato sauce, Tabasco, lemon juice or vinegar, Worchestershire sauce and celery. Add oysters and stir gently, then chill. Season the cream with salt and cayenne pepper. Serve the oysters in cocktail glasses, and force a rose of cream through a forcing pipe on top of each cocktail. Sufficient for three people.

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