Creuses with Basil Jelly

In the Netherlands, we grow two sorts of oysters: the Dutch Imperial, or Ostrea edulis, and the Dutch Creuse, or Crassostrea gigas, also known as the Pacific oyster.

The Creuse is one of the most widely cultivated marine organisms in the world, and also one of the prettiest. Its oval shaped shell comes in colors from pale green to deep striped purple, and cultivation has given it a deep cupped bowl shape. In North America, these beauties are grown primarily on the West Coast, where it takes two or three years of careful tending before they’re ready to eat. This means of course that they need to be eaten only with something as delicious as they are, and we find that this jelly is the perfect compliment!

Ingredients for 4 people:

  • 24 oysters
  • 6 tomatoes
  • 4 chopped basil leaves
  • 1 finely chopped shallot
  • 1 lemon
  • ½ a leaf of gelatin
  • 2 teaspoons of sherry vinegar
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Coarse sea salt or rock salt

Preparation:

Peel the tomatoes and cut them in half. Remove the seeds over a bowl so that the juice is retained. Strain the liquid and set it aside. Cut the tomatoes into cubes.

Peel the lemon. Blanch the peel in boiling water for 30 seconds, and cut it into pieces. Squeeze the lemon juice and set it aside. Soak the gelatin in cold water. Open the oysters and drain the liquid into a bowl. Cut the oysters free of their shells. Clean out the shells and put them aside.

Put the oyster juice in a pan with 5 tablespoons of tomato liquid, together with the pieces of lemon peel and a few drops of the lemon juice. Bring it to the boil. Squeeze out the gelatin and let it dissolve into the sauce. Season with salt and pepper, and let it cool.

Mix the chopped tomatoes with the basil, a few drops of sherry vinegar, the finely chopped shallot, and some salt and pepper. Spoon the tomato salad into the oyster half shells, add an oyster, and top with some of the cooled jelly mixture. Put them in the fridge for 10 minutes.

Take 4 plates, and make 6 small mounds of rock salt on each. Put an oyster on each mound, and serve!

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