Saturday, 24 January 2009
The Oyster is a bivalve mollusk that has existed since prehistoric times. More than 100 species live in colonies natural beds and banks that are to be found in most parts of the world.
During the summer, an oyster lays about 500 million eggs in the water to be fertilized by the male's sperm. Soon after that, a pinhead sized larva swims around and hatch in about ten hours.
In two days shells begin to form and two weeks later pea sized "spat" sink to the bottom. Living on its hollowed out shell, the oyster grows one inch a year. Adults can live to be ten years old and reproduce billions of times. Many marine creatures eat oysters, including whelks and sea stars. Humans consume it either in fresh or dried forms. With so many predators of the oysters, only about one in a million spat will survive.
Oysters that are sold live should smell briny-fresh, and look bright and clean. Shells should be tightly closed (so that you can't pull them apart), or should close tightly when the shell is tapped;
don't buy oysters with open shells. Freshly shucked oysters should be submerged in their own clear liquid (called liquor).
When you buy oysters, it is imperative to keep them alive till you are ready to cook them or serve them. Live oysters can be stored in the refrigerator, covered with wet kitchen towels or paper towels. The key is to keep them truly cold: if possible, at zero degrees Celsius to two degrees Celsius. Within that range, oysters should keep (in a live state) for about four to seven days. Be sure to remove any
that die (look for open shells) during that period so they do not contaminate the remaining oysters. Do not put them in an airtight container or submerge them in fresh water, or they will die.
Shucked oysters should be kept in tightly covered containers, immersed in their liquor; they, too, should keep for up to a week. They should keep for two months if the freezer is set at -20 degrees Celsius or colder. Be sure to thaw frozen oysters in the refrigerator, not at room temperature.
In the 1st century, no Roman orgy was complete without huge platters of oysters. The ancient Romans served large quantities of oysters at their banquets and learned to cultivate them. They have a long history of nourishing the human race, and have been a prized food since the pre-Christian era. Few foods can compare with oysters in terms of their nutritional value. The oyster is a well balanced nutritious food, rich in minerals such as zinc and iron, as well as vitamins A, B1, B2 and C.
Oysters are among the few shellfish that people of the world still eat alive and raw. In countless stories and legends throughout history, Oysters have been the base for 'Love potions'. A common cause of impotence in men is zinc deficiency and the richest animal source of zinc of course Oysters. American health guidelines suggest that 15mg of zinc be included in the male diet, the British average is ony 8mg.
Oysters are also a source of Dopamine - a vital neurotransmitter which helps govern brain activity. It provokes sexual interest and triggers responses, while improving performance in both males and females. It is also said to amplify the intensity of sensation.
Health Tip: Because raw foods including oysters may carry bacteria, persons with chronic liver disease, impaired immune systems or cancer should avoid eating raw oysters.
Recipe: Peanuts And Oysters Porridge
300g uncooked rice grains
2 tbsps groundnut oil
1 tbsp salt
6 litres water
1/2 tbsp alkaline water/ kan sui
120g dried oysters (soaked)
50g dried mushrooms (soaked)
4 slices ginger
60g dried squid (toasted)
Some diced spring onions
Some sliced Chinese crullers/ yaw char kwai (refried to crisp it further)
1. Marinate washed rice grains with ingredient (A) for 30 minutes. This helps to soften the rice texture. Bring 6 litres of water to a boil, add in ingredient (A) and (D). Cook on low heat and stir it often.
2. Mix ingredient (B) together for 10 minutes. Soak it in boiling water for 10 minutes. Drain and cook in fresh boiling water for another 10 minutes to remove the alkaline taste. Remove and drain.
3. Slice oysters of ingredient (C) into pieces. Cook sliced oysters with the ginger slices for 10 minutes. Slice mushroom into pieces.
4. When porridge has reached the first hour of cooking, stir in no.(2) and no.(3). Simmer on low heat till peanuts are soft enough. Stir porridge and add in extra water if the consistency is too thick. Season before serving porridge with the garnishings.