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  • Bute St Seafoodie

Oysters, Trout "Caviar" and Chives, Ginger & Soy Dressing

Updated: Dec 12, 2021

"All art is autobiographical; the pearl is the oyster's autobiography.”

Federico Fellini, Italian film director (1920-1993)

I had seen a recipe of this kind quite some time ago and had forgotten where. But very recently my brother, who has travelled south east Asia quite extensively, asked me to pick up some oysters for him from the Dorset Fish stall at Bute Street Farmers' Market and the next day he sent me a picture of this dish. As it happens the recipe he had used was not the one I thought I was looking for, but it was one at least as good, if not better, and it came from Olive Magazine, to which I have been a subscriber for years and years.

My brother pointed out to me that if you search on the internet for "Japanese oyster", you will get back plenty of recipes very similar to this, which is true. Reading around, it would seem to be a preferred way in Japan to serve freshly shucked oysters with a variety of appetising dressings (not that the French Sauce Mignonette doesn't still remain a particular favourite of mine), but when the dressing contains salmon roe, or "ikura", we are in deluxe mode. I found an article by RecipeTin Japan particularly enlightening.

Salmon roe is not something that I expect I'll ever be able to buy in my local farmers' markets for the obvious reason that very little, if any, salmon is harvested within the permitted radius of the market to be saleable in it. Nowadays, finding salmon roe in the shops is not very difficult but, ever-keen as I am to shout out for our local producers, I couldn't see any reason why trout roe shouldn't be a perfectly successful alternative - and it very much isn't - it works superbly. However, I must be clear that the trout "caviar" I have used that is sold by Charlie's Trout is also not available in the local farmers' market. This is because it is sourced through a collaboration with a producer in Ireland and is therefore ineligible for sale in the market, unlike everything else Charlie's Trout has to offer. But having started to get to know this producer, it is easy to feel extremely confident that everything they engage themselves in is done so with quality and respect at heart and this particular product is seriously good and is available in their online shop.

When it came to making this recipe for the purposes of this post, my oysters came from Yorwarth's Fresh Fish whose stall is on one corner of the farmers' market in High Street Kensington, the opposite corner being that occupied by Charlie's Trout. I have to say Martin's oysters are quite excellent and when I buy from him he very kindly opens a couple for me to have for some sort of post-morning-dog-walk breakfast.

As is so often the case with seafood dishes having roots in the cuisine of Japan, I am inclined to suggest a sake as an accompaniment. Though here I'd lean toward a cold one for the partnering to raw oysters.

If I may say so, I'm OK at shucking oysters, but not so talented as to guarantee the complete absence of shards of shell. To that end I've written this recipe in such a way as to minimise the amount of grit that might make its way into the finished article. For those who know they're shucking amazing there's no need to go through the process of sieving and wiping the oyster meats - just add ¼ tsp of the dressing to each of your perfectly-shucked oysters.

In the end this is more or less the recipe written in Olive Magazine, but having taken note from the article by RecipeTin Japan, I have simply substituted the spring onion garnish for one of chives. And that's not least because I grow them in my balcony herb garden and can never wait to use them! This recipe can simply be multiplied up if serving for larger numbers.

Oysters, Trout "Caviar" and Chives, Ginger & Soy Dressing

Ingredients (per dozen oysters)

1 dozen oysters

1 spring onion, finely shredded

½ tsp grated ginger

½ tbsp soy sauce

½ tbsp rice wine vinegar

½ tsp sugar

30g trout roe (or salmon roe), or quantity as preferred

1-2 tbsp finely chopped chives

Crushed ice, to serve


  1. Shuck the oysters over a sieve set on a bowl so that the meats are captured in the sieve and the juices below. Reserve the rounded half of the shell to serve the oysters in. Tip the oyster meats onto several sheets of kitchen paper and carefully wipe clean of any grit. Keep cool in the fridge.

  2. To the juices from the oysters add the shredded spring onion, grated ginger, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and sugar. Stir well to combine and leave for 5 mins to infuse.

  3. Put the crushed ice on a serving dish then arrange the reserved oyster shells over it. Spoon a teaspoon or two of the dressing into each shell then place an oyster in the centre. To one end of the shell add about ½ tsp of trout "caviar" and to the other end add ¼-½ tsp of the chopped chives.

  4. Serve straight away.


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