Poached Oysters with Cucumber Fricassee

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Poached Oysters with Cucumber Fricassee

Poached Oysters with Cucumber Fricassee

In France, oysters are massively popular. Here, I’ve served them with lightly cooked cucumber, which, although it is best known as a salad vegetable, is delicious prepared this way—its fresh taste and crisp texture complements the oysters perfectly and tastes superb with brown bread.
Ingredients

– SERVES 4.
– PREPARATION TIME 35 minutes.
– COOKING TIME 15 minutes.
– 16 oysters in the shell. Fish Stock.
– 1 tablespoon gin.
– 2 tablespoons unsalted butter.
– 1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into 2-inch pieces, thinly sliced lengthwise into julienne strips.
– 4 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt or crème fraîche.
– leaves from 4 watercress sprigs, roughly chopped.
– finely grated zest of 1 lime.
– sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Instructions

Step 1: To open the oysters, put them flat-side up, one at a time, on a clean, folded dish towel. Holding the rounded side of the shell in your hand, insert the tip of an oyster knife into the top edge and wiggle it slightly from side to side, at the same time as pushing it in a little farther. As you twist the knife, the top half of the shell should pop open. Lift off the top shell carefully and discard it, keeping the oyster, juices and bottom half of the shell. Strain the juices into a bowl, adding enough fish stock to make up to 1 cup liquid, if necessary. Push the knife under the oysters to separate them from the shells, then leave them to one side. Bring a saucepan of water to a boil over high heat. Add the bottom shells and return to a boil, then remove the pan from the heat, strain the liquid and put the shells on a dish towel to dry. Leave to one side until required.
Step 2: Divide the juice-stock liquid between two small saucepans, ideally one shallow and the other slightly deeper. Bring the liquid in the shallow pan to a boil, then turn the heat down to low and simmer a few minutes until the liquid reduces by three-quarters and is syrupy. Add the gin, return to a simmer and simmer 5 to 7 minutes until it is syrupy again. Remove the pan from the heat, cover with a lid and leave to one side.
Step 3: Meanwhile, melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. When the butter is foaming, add the cucumber and fry 1 to 2 minutes until just light golden, but still crisp. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then tip onto a dish towel to drain. Spoon into the cleaned oyster shells.
Step 4: Bring the second pan containing the juices and stock to a boil. Turn the heat down to low, add the oysters, cover the pan with a lid and simmer 2 to 3 minutes until they are just cooked. Check that they are ready by pressing very lightly with your finger—there should be a little resistance, but you don’t want them to be firm. Discard the cooking liquid, then spoon the oysters on top of the cucumber in the shells.
Step 5: If the reduced liquid has become cold, gently warm it up again. Whisk in the yogurt, taking care not to overheat it or it will separate. Add the watercress, then remove the pan from the heat and stir the leaves through. Season the sauce with pepper to taste, then spoon over the oysters and sprinkle with the lime zest before serving.

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