I still intend to use Bluff oysters for the classic fried oyster recipe, but this will have to wait until next season. For the other two recipes, however, I had every intention of finding a cheaper substitute. So when I was recently offered a good deal on some Pacific oysters, I bought a couple of dozen for this purpose.
I chose to try scalloped oysters (p117) first. Since I'd never tried oysters before, I was a bit apprehensive as I looked at the recipe - the oysters did not appear to actually be cooked, just stirred through a white sauce, topped with breadcrumbs and briefly grilled until the topping crisped up. Did I really want my first oyster to be a raw (or almost raw) one? Not really, but it had to be done.
So I forged ahead with the sauce. It was pretty standard: melt butter, stir in flour, then add milk gradually, stirring like a mad thing to get all the lumps out. Then it was a matter of stirring through some lemon juice, nutmeg and seasoning.
The sauce looked ok - a sort of smooth, creamy white colour - until I added the oysters and it turned a very unappealing grey. I whizzed up a bread roll into crumbs, stirred it through some melted butter, sprinkled it over, and put it in the oven.
It didn't take long at all before the topping had browned up. I served myself a generous portion, and sat down to eat, setting up my camera to film the momentous occasion that was me eating my first oyster:
As you can see, I found my first taste of oysters inoffensive, but hardly exciting. As I progressed through the plateful, however, I found them less enjoyable. The oysters, barely warmed through to begin with, had cooled down significantly while I was faffing about with the camera. By the time I was halfway through, I was forcing down cold slimy oysters in a congealing sauce.
I finished the plateful, but didn't feel I could face oysters again any time soon. Luckily, my parents were here the next night so I fed the leftovers to Dad. My second tub of oysters has gone into the freezer for a future attempt at oyster soup.
I think oysters are the kind of food that if you eat too many, you don't want to see another one for a long time. That's how I'm feeling about them at present! I think that the battered, fried oysters will be more to my taste than scalloped oysters, but we'll have to wait until next year to find out about that. The oyster soup will be attempted at some time before then - I have to say, I don't hold high hopes for it.