Traditionalists will tell you the best way to eat oysters in the half shell is naked, freshly opened, with nothing at all.
It’s a nice way to enjoy them especially if you’re feeling lazy and the only work you want to do is a bit of shucking.
Personally, if you gave me a dozen oysters, half a lemon, some tabasco, and a couple of pints of Guinness than I’d be a happy man.
You might find both these ways of slurping down natures viagra a little boring and want to spice them up a little. And the great news is that the creamy texture and sweet briny taste of oysters can handle a lot of different flavours.
Sweet, sour, hot, and spicy all go well with oysters. The trick is to restrain yourself a little, you don’t want to overpower the delicate natural flavour of the oyster.
Most of the oyster topping recipes that follow are quick and easy with minimal prep, chopping, or slicing. You could easily whip up a batch in under 5 minutes.
There’s some tasty vinaigrettes flavoured with different fruits, spices, and herbs all designed to complement sweet brininess of the oyster.
I’ve got a few ice cool granita oyster topping ideas for you to try (more on those later) as well as a couple of really quick hot toppings. Which are my own personal favourites.
Let’s get to it….
29 Quick toppings for oysters
The classic shallot and red wine mignonette.
It’s an old one but a good one. Classic recipes like this piquant vinaigrette topping will always stand the test of time simply because they work and taste great.
Making it is dead easy too but you’ve gotta do it ahead of time, and let it marinade so the flavours mingle, ideally a couple of hours before you shuck your oysters.
All you have to do is dice up half a cup (2.5oz) of shallots and stir them into a quarter cup (4 tablespoons) of red wine vinegar. Then just leave the topping to infuse before you spoon it over your shucked oysters.
I like to eat as is, though you could sweeten it with a little sugar or add a few crushed black peppercorns to cut through the sharp vinegar.
You can use the exact same formula to make any version of this mignonette you like. Just be careful with any vinegar or acid you add to your oyster topping, too much will kill that briny fresh ocean flavor.
Here are some fresh oyster dressing ideas to get your creative juices flowing.
- Herbs like dill and coriander are a great addition to an oyster mignonette topping.
- Some of the more fragrant herbs like sorrel and lovage add an earthy kick.
- Lemons and limes are good but other citrus fruits like blood oranges and grapefruit not only taste great but look cool too.
- Apple and cider vinegar.
- Roasted beets and balsamic.
- Pomegranate…recipe below.
- Cucumber and champagne vinegar.
- Caviar if you can afford it. Salmon, trout or lumpfish roe if you can’t.
- Grated horseradish, wasabi, or Worcestershire sauce.
There are so many ingredients to use the possibilities seem endless. Here’s a selection of recipes for the mignonettes I like to make.
There’s no real method here, all you’ve got to do is mix the ingredients together and leave to mingle…..
Pomegranate Mignonette For Oysters
2.5 oz pomegranate seeds.
1 oz shallot (finely diced)
1 tablespoon pomegranate juice.
2 tablespoons of champagne vinegar.
Japanese Style Oysters
1 oz pickled ginger (finely diced)
Wasabi to taste
2 tablespoons of rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon of sesame oil
Thai Style Oyster Topping
Juice of 2 limes
Half a tablespoon of fish sauce
1 oz of shredded spring onion
Half a chilli (sliced)
Apple and cider mignonette
2 oz of apple cut into strips
1 oz finely diced shallot
3 tablespoons of cider vinegar
All these recipes are pretty standard but if you want to try something different and a little more adventurous than this blueberry mignonette from Julie over at in a half shell is one of the most original I’ve come across. Check out the recipe here.
Ice cool granita oyster toppings
Dressings aren’t the only topping you can spoon over oysters. Granitas or what your kids would call a slush puppy are quite refreshing and add lots of flavour and texture to oysters.
Shaved ices are easy to make and like the mignonettes above you don’t really need a recipe.
After all, you can freeze any liquid and if you’re in a hurry just put it in a shallow dish, pop it in your freezer, and after half an hour run a fork through your granita to stir up some amazingly tasty ice crystals.
Alcohol based granitas work great on oysters. You can easily turn your favourite tipple into a little-shaved ice. Champagne, Prosecco, Guinness, or maybe a good craft beer?
If you want to use something a little harder like vodka, whisky, or gin it will need to be mixed, kinda like a cocktail because it won’t freeze neat.
This is just down to the high alcohol content and it’s why you can store your vodka chilled and ready to serve straight from the freezer.
Fruit juices work great as a mixer. Just mix equal amounts together before freezing for an awesome tasting ice. Think lime & gin, whisky & lemon, vodka & grapefruit or whatever interesting combo you can come up with.
The bloody mary granita is a bit of a classic at this stage but boozy granitas are just one idea.
Some fruits make great granitas in their own right even without any alcohol! and if you own a juicer or Nutri bullet are child’s play to make. Just juice it up and get it in the freezer. Here’s a quick list of some fruits you could use.
- Watermelon…in fact any type of melon.
You can, of course, give these fruity granita toppings a twist by adding a little something to spice it up. Think some herbs, chillies, pepper or a little ginger.
By far the most interesting granita I’ve come across though is made with tabasco. It produces the weirdest sensation your mouth….hot and cold at the same time.
To make it just mix some tabasco with a little stock syrup, lemon, or lime juice to dilute it a little. Ita a bit too spicy just on its own. Then give it a quick taste to make sure it’s to your liking and get it in the freezer.
Grilled oyster toppings
If you happen to be one of the many people who doesn’t enjoy raw oysters and the thoughts of a live mollusc sliding down your throat fill’s you with dread, I’ve got you covered.
If fact, if you’ve tried oysters and weren’t all that impressed than this recipe is for you. It’s so simple yet tastes so good you’ll find your self-making it again and again.
If you think you might not like oysters than try them this way
– Nigel Slater
Nigel Slaters Grilled Oysters With Tarragon Garlic Butter
You’ll need –
- 150g butter
- Large clove of finely chopped garlic
- 2 finely chopped shallots
- A handful of chopped tarragon leaves
- Juice of half a lemon
- 12 shucked oysters
- A handful of fresh breadcrumbs
Here’s how to make it –
- Mash together the butter, garlic, shallots and tarragon before stirring in the lemon juice.
- Preheat your grill. Then place the shucked oysters on a tray. Use a rack, a layer of salt or some beans to stop the oysters rolling about and spilling their juicy cargo.
- Spoon a dollop of the garlic butter into each oyster and sprinkle on some of the fresh breadcrumbs. Use quite a thick layer of crumbs but don’t completely cover the oyster.
- Cook under your hot grill till the crumbs start to brown and the butter begins to bubble.
Grilled Oysters with Chipotle Bourbon Butter
Shellfish and garlic are a classic combo but if you want to try a something a little different then check out this cool recipe for Grilled Oysters over on feed me Phoebe.
Made with whisky, honey and chilli, the butter clings to the briny oyster caramelising it as it cooks turning it into a sweet buttery treat.
Chimichurri roast oysters
If that doesn’t float your boat how about these roasted oysters with a chimichurri topping by Jenny over at spoonforkbacon. Although you’d normally serve chimichurri with a steak its ingredients (shallots, herbs, lemons, and chilli) work great with oysters.
The best thing about this recipe is there’s no shucking needed, the oysters pop open all on their own as they roast in the oven.
Oysters with crispy chilli shallots
Earlier I gave a recipe for a Thai-style oyster topping. If you went to Thailand though it’s unlikely you’d be served oysters like this.
Instead, the Thais make an oyster dish called hoy naang rom sot, you can check it out here, and it tastes great.
It’s simply freshly shucked oysters, topped with a little-burnt chilli jam, some really crispy fried shallots, and sprigs of mint or cilantro.
The dish has a great contrast in textures and flavours between the briny soft oyster, the sweet crispy shallots, and the hot sticky jam.
Below is a quick version of the recipe you could knock up in about 10 minutes.
Here’s how you make it –
- All you have to do is slice a whole shallot into rings as finely as possible. Then dip them in some flour that’s been laced with as many chilli flakes as you think you can handle. Transfer the shallots in some milk and then back into the spicy flour.
- Repeat this process a couple of times to build up a coating on the shallot rings and then fry till golden and crispy in hot oil.
- Drain the shallots well on some kitchen roll and pop them on some freshly shucked half shell oysters and top with sprigs of cilantro for an awesome tasting sea treat.
Oysters with pickled cucumber, creme fraiche, and dill
If hot n’ spicy’s not your thing but you’re looking for a quick, cool, and elegant oyster topping than this recipe fits the bill. A little chopping and a quick 2-minute marinade and its job done.
Luckily this dish eats as well as it looks. The sour crunchy cucumber works great with the oysters, creamy creme fraiche, and fragrant dill.
Here’s how you do it –
- Peel and deseed half a cucumber before cutting it into thin strips and drizzling over a couple of teaspoons of white wine vinegar.
- Leave to marinate for about 2 minutes while you shuck your oysters. You want the cucumber to take in the flavour of the vinegar but not become too soggy and limp.
- After a couple of minutes spoon the cucumber onto the oysters and top with a teaspoon of creme fraiche and some sprigs of dill.
If you can afford it and can get your hands on some than a little spoonful of caviar would work great with this too. Unfortunately, as you can see in the picture it was a little beyond my budget.
There you have it 29 oyster topping ideas to try. Of course, if you’re lazy or are a bit of a traditionalist at heart just shuck em and eat em….. they taste great in any case.
And if you’ve got any cool or unusual oyster recipes let me know. I’d love to give them a try.