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I love OYSTERS and I like my oysters 'Au Naturel'. To get that right takes great care, understanding and skill, and of course the presentation is vital.

The ideal is to take a walk along a pristine beach, pick a few oysters off the rocks, shuck and enjoy. So, when I ask for Oysters in a restaurant, I am asking for the vision, smell and taste a of that pristine beach, on a plate.

Crushed ice emulates the white breaking surf; salt - the smell of sea and sand; a twist of lemon - the cleansing sea breeze and a touch of finely ground black pepper (one turn of the grinder) - the hint of warmth from the sun.

Don't throw some oysters on a plate .... transport me!

'To master simplicity, master complexity.'

As for tabasco, I don't get it. I enjoy the condiment on a variety of dishes, but not here. Perhaps for those who like the feel of scorching sand on bare feet ... or a sunburn?

Apparently, artificial oyster beds were being formed in China long before they came to be cultivated by the Romans. That means that we have been enjoying the art of eating oysters for about 1900 years.

For a fascinating, all encompassing history of the Oyster:

oysters and all about them

image: wikipedia commons

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Thursday, September 10, 2009


I have a beef with the way Steak Tartare has been discombobulated!

Any old ground beef with a raw egg on top is passed off as Steak Tartare these days. I even suffered the misfortune of being presented with the raw ingredients and expected to 'cook' it myself. Really!! Would you ask a costumer to prepare anything other dish themselves?

This dish is supposed to reflect, in a more sophisticated fashion the raw steak which, it is said, Tartar horseman placed between the saddle and their mount's back to be pounded and crushed during a fierce ride. The modern version is commonly assembled and prepared from the gueridon, ( a small round table).

It is true that there are different versions, from different countries. What I am talking about is what is being presented as a sophisticated dish. The steak in Steak Tartare must be that .... fillet of beef, not mince, not ground beef, not a mixture. The steak must be chopped into a fine dice. This is the art in it. There is a huge difference between chopped and minced, in both taste and texture.

Ingredients: Mise en place
Finely chopped raw fillet steak
Finely chopped raw onions and onions rings
Anchovy fillets
Other flavourings to choice - e.g. Tabasco or Worcestershire sauce
Chopped hard boiled egg
Virgin Olive Oil
Milled pepper to taste
Cayenne pepper (optional)
Raw egg

These ingredients should be chilled or very cool.

Tartare Steak is simply the pounded raw meat seasoned, lightly dressed with oil and vinegar, and then shaped before the guests, manipulating into a neat roundel with two forks.
Chopped onions may be incorporated or served as an accompaniment. Commonly a small well or depression is made on the top of the shaped steak, to receive a garnish of raw egg yolk.
Final garnish may include onion rings, anchovy fillet in julienne strips, capers and chopped hard boiled egg (yolk and white).
Oil and vinegar and other condiments are placed on the table.
A green salad is customary accompaniment, together with thinly sliced black bread and butter ( Danish rye or pumpernickel ).

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