Romantic dinner for two? How about some oysters on Valentine’s Day? Being known for increasing sex hormones and testosterone, oysters are widely believed to be an aphrodisiac. Personally, oysters don’t quite work like “Viagra” for me, but I absolutely adore them. Tasty and elegant, they are great for special occasions like Valentine’s Day. Just like fine cheese and wine, not only do oysters taste distinctly different from region to region, but each specie has its own unique taste profile. Salty, sweet, earthy and fruity, oysters’ texture is soft yet firm and slippery yet crisp. At first, its salty “seaweed-like” unique flavors say “hello” to the palate. Then, as it gets chewed on, it starts tasting sweet. On a finish note, the subtle flavors of a refreshing cucumber and sweet melon nicely coat the mouth. Oysters’ intricate flavors and textures not only make it fantastic eaten raw but also magnificent cooked with sweet, peppery and earthy vegetables. To celebrate this upcoming Valentine’s Day, I’ve decided to create an oyster pilaf by pairing that supposed “aphrodisiac”, deliciously multi-layered seafood with crisp radish, spicy radish greens and earthy, buttery mushroom olive oil in my California kitchen.
First, wash 1 cup of rice and let it soak in one cup of water. Next, chop 1 cup radish in an inch length and finely chop 1 cup radish greens. Also, open and clean a dozen fresh oysters in shells. Next, preheat some 7th taste mushroom olive oil in a cast iron pot and saute 1 large garlic clove (crushed), the radish and radish greens and season with some sea salt to taste. Next, pour the water-soaked rice and its residual water to the pot, stir in with the radish mixture and bring it to boil. Next, lower the heat to simmer for 10 minutes with the cover. Finally, add the dozen oysters on top of the rice and cook for another 5-10 minutes. For the sauce, mix 1/3 cup light soy sauce, 1 garlic clove (crushed), 1 green onion stalk (chopped), 1 teaspoon hot pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon Mirin (sweet sake), 1 teaspoon honey, 1 green chili pepper (chopped), 1 Tablespoon roasted sesame seeds, 1 Tablespoon toasted sesame oil and some freshly ground black pepper in a bowl. Serve the sauce separately from a bowl of the oyster pilaf. This recipe serves about 2-3 servings.
A spoonful of this oyster pilaf is as complex as fresh raw oysters in their shells. Soft and crunchy at the same time, the sweetness, pepperiness, butteriness and earthiness are perfectly harmonized in every bite. I especially love how the “softened” cooked radish greens, which usually taste a bit too sharp and pungent when raw, nicely accentuate every bite of this warm, earthy rice dish. A drop of the delicious sauce also gives this oyster pilaf another flavor dimension. The saltiness, sweetness and pepperiness of the dish gets more intensified by the sauce, like kissing the sea with a peppermint in the mouth at sunset. I hope you enjoy this oyster pilaf recipe and wish you a very happy Valentine’s Day!