The House of Oysters – an excellent, updated guide
With delicious recipes from Australia's A-list chefs
By Kerry Scambler
Shuck me, split me, sip me – so beckon the freshest, plumpest Tasmanian oysters and who could deny the temptation with this book full of delicious recipes from Australia's most inspired chefs?
It’s the country’s best selling oyster guide and was awarded ‘Australia’s best seafood cookbook ‘ at the Gourmand world cookbook awards.
Originally published in 2008 by Barilla Bay Oysters, the revised edition by our friends at Tas Food Books has a more national appeal, and boasts 16 new pages of recipes and information, plus updates and improvements to many of the original sections.
Whilst The House of Oysters contains mouth-watering recipes shown off beautifully through the photos by Paul County and Nick Osborne, it also tells the life of the oyster, farming history and much other background information in an appealing and interesting way.
Beginning with the section entitled ‘Sex and the single oyster’ and food critic Graeme Phillips’ question of ‘how did such an ugly, solitary, uncommunicative, blind, libido-deprived, onanistic sex-starved confused thing come to be associated with love, sex and sexual athletics?’, the section explains the life and times of the oysters commonly farmed in Australia.
Next is the history of the oyster as a food and given the age and contents of most middens, it has clearly been a favourite of coastal Aboriginals for centuries. (One midden on Tasmania’s west coast is over seven metres high!).
Further sections include:
- The introduction of the Pacific oyster (were they really part of Japan’s war reparations?)
- The history of farming in Tasmania
- Oyster festivals
- Oyster farming Selection and presentation (a well revised and very useful section)
- Oyster connoisseurship
- And more
An excellent addition is the seasonality table which in one glance shows you what to expect of each oyster type in each month including the peak and spawning times as well as when they might have other characteristics (eg creamy or gritty).
Now whilst there's nothing quite like an oyster au naturale gliding over your taste buds with its fresh, salty flavour, a full plate of diversely prepared lovelies would surely be a taste of heaven.
With this book, you can create your own heaven on a plate from a range of recipes, some simple like oyster, pear and pinot grigio to the more complex Oysters with Champagne Sorbet and Black Sea Salt from Justin North formerly of Becasse in Sydney, and Sparkling Oyster Shooters with Raspberry and Vanilla Vodkas.
Other combinations include Fresh Oysters with Ruby Grapefruit, Mint and Chilli; Beer-battered Oysters with Prik Naam Pla; Macadamia Nut Crusted Oysters, and Stephanie Alexander’s Oyster Soup.
Simon West, Steven Snow, Teage Ezard, Peter Kurivita and Peter Doyle are amongst the chefs sharing their oyster secrets along with an 8,000 year old recipe that has to be a winner to have survived this long – Oysters Nuenonne with fern roots and samphire from Bruny Island.
These are definitely flavours and recipes to inspire and I’ll soon be ringing around my oyster-loving friends suggesting we share an intimate oyster feast of our own, perhaps turning the traditional BYO into Bring Your Oysters.
Simply put, if you love oysters, you’ll love this book and even if you have the original edition, I'd suggest the updated House of Oysters would be still be a great addition to the culinary library.
This revised 2011 edition of The House of Oysters (HB, 150 pages) is published by Tas Food Books. RRP A$29.95 . Buy directly through www.tasfoodbooks.com for $26.95 (including postage).
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