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Rated: E · Non-fiction · Travel · #1617187
Fresh New Zealand Bluff Oysters with a Vodka relish
Oyster’s à la Russe          By the Chef on Safari

The Oysters à la Russe is based on three essential ingredients – Fresh Oysters, a good quality Vodka and freshly prepared Horseradish.

I had just arrived in the oyster capital of New Zealand, at a place called Bluff.  This is as far south, as one can go in the South Island of New Zealand.  I was hoping to be able to obtain some fresh oysters for trying out some new entrée and main course dishes.  When a fellow chef recognized me and asked if I would like to come over to his restaurant that night to help out. The guests were mainly foreign tour operators visiting the region.  Well I was most reluctant but after bit of persuasion (namely a good bottle of vino) I agreed.  On arrival I asked if he would like me to make the entrée.  So rummaging around his flatware storeroom I came across some nice platters. So the fun began.

I have reduced the recipe down to 6 people and it can easily be increased as required.

Oysters à la Russe
(Oysters served with a Vodka relish)

6 Serve.

Preparing the Platter

To prepare the platter for use you need it to be clean and dry.  Take a paper towel and using white vinegar wipe over the whole surface to be used.  Chill the platter.  While the platter is chilling make up the following.  In a small saucepan place about a cup of warm water and about one tablespoon of powered gelatine, a small amount of blue food colouring.  Do not make the blue to light or to dark.  Just a subtle shade of blue will do.  When the gelatine has dissolved, carefully pour it on to the plate and let it set.  Then crush some ice until it is of a fine consistency (but not slush), you may need to refreeze the crushed ice.

Vodka Relish


2 Tbsp Vodka
½ tsp Fresh Lemon juice
¼ tsp Freshly prepared Horseradish
Dash of Tabasco Sauce
Pinch of Castor Sugar
Pinch of Salt
1 Tomato, seeded and finely chopped.
1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh chives

In bowl, stir together the vodka, lemon juice, horseradish, Tabasco sauce, sugar and salt. Gently stir in the tomato and chives.  Then place in the refrigerator to chill.

Preparing the Oysters
12 Large Oysters
Wash the oysters under cold running water to remove any loose barnacles or sand.  Insert the tip of the oyster shucker between the shell halves near the hinge; twist upwards to open the shell.  Discard the top shell.  Using the blade of the shucker, sever the connective membrane that holds the oyster to the bottom shell. 

To serve
Coarsely Cracked Pepper
When serving make sure the plate is chilled.  Place the oyster shells around the plate on the shaved ice. Spoon the chilled vodka relish over each oyster; dust with cracked pepper

Well after a bit of a chat, another coffee and the securing of another night and bidding adieu, I stepped out into the cool of the evening. Driving home I thought about how much chefs are respected in this world and how much of a gypsy lifestyle we all live. 

Where will I be tomorrow, I don’t know somewhere out there cooking for someone who needs it I guess, maybe I’ll still be looking for that perfect dish.  Who knows, because I don’t?
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