Introduction: Oyster Shooters

About: I helped start Instructables, previously worked in biotech and academic research labs, and have a degree in biology from MIT. Currently head of Product helping young startups at Alchemist Accelerator, previous…

This recipe is adapted from the Oyster, ginger, steelhead roe, beer dish from the Alinea Cookbook.  

It was one of three recipes Eric and I made for the Alinea Dinner Challenge 2, and by far the most successful.  It was also the easiest - if you can shuck an oyster, you can pull this one off beautifully.  Read on, and I'll explain how. 

Step 1: Ingredients and Tools

20 medium oysters
125g peeled ginger
500g water
100g sugar
2g Kosher salt
4 gelatin sheets
200g ale-style beer
150g sugar
6g soy lecithin
2 scallions
50g steelhead trout roe or salmon roe

8 glass cylinders
flat-bottomed bowls
small pot
8x8 pan
stick blender
oyster knife & glove

Step 2: Infuse Ginger

100g sugar
500 g (500mL) water
2g salt
125g peeled ginger, thinly sliced

Combine water, sugar, and salt in small (1quart) pan, and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar and salt.
Add ginger, stir, then turn off and let the ginger steep for 10 minutes.
Strain liquid to remove any ginger chunks or strings.

Step 3: Add Gelatin

If using gelatin sheets:
Soak 4 sheets of gelatin in ice water until thoroughly softened, about 5 minutes. 
Squeeze gelatin sheets, and add one-by-one to the still-hot ginger tea, stirring to ensure they dissolve.
Pour into an 8"x8" pan, and refrigerate several hours or overnight.

If using powdered gelatin:
Pour hot ginger tea into an 8"x8" pan, and find one packet of plain gelatin.
Sprinkle gelatin in a thin layer over the surface of the still-hot liquid, and allow it to sit and "bloom", or absorb water into each separate little powdered granule, for several minutes.  This helps it hydrate without clumping.  You may need to do this in two or three batches, stirring between to incorporate.
Stir gelatin thoroughly to mix, and refrigerate several hours or overnight.

Basically, one packet of powdered gelatin has roughly the same setting power as 4 silver or gold gelatin sheets. There's much more detail to be learned (see Google for help!), and you can do conversion math, but it's really not necessary for this dish. 

Step 4: Shuck Oysters

Shuck 20 medium-sized oysters, 2 per serving.  When in doubt, go for smaller oysters.
Reserve liquid and remove all bits of shell and grit.  Store in a bowl, chilled, until ready to serve.

(Obviously these are raw oysters, so don't shuck them too early!)

Step 5: Chop Scallions

Thinly slice the green part of a single scallion (green onion) and set aside at room temperature.

Step 6: Prep Beer

200g ale-style beer
150g sugar

- combine in a small pot, and heat and stir to dissolve the sugar.  Remove from heat as soon as sugar is dissolved.
- dump into a high-sided container (a pitcher or jar does nicely)

6g soy lecithin

- add soy lecithin to beer/sugar mix, and give it a whir with a stick blender.
- as you generate foam, scoop it out and into an adjacent bowl for use, preferably in the next couple of minutes.

There's a bit of a trick to the foaming:  first, you need to be sure you're scooting the blender around at the surface to entrain enough air.  Angling the container may help.  Play around with it and find a good angle that achieves maximum froth. Also, be sure to scoop foam out as you go so there's headspace for more.

Step 7: Acquire Cylinder or Glass

For proper plating, you really need a glass or plastic cylinder.  I looked for those glass cylinders you put over candles to keep the wind off, but couldn't find them; instead I got plastic champagne flutes from IKEA ($2.99 for a 4-pack) and whacked the bases off with a chop saw.  After a quick de-burring and a wash, they were good to go.  I could have cut them shorter, but this is fine.

If you can't find or make a cylinder, just use a small low clear glass with a spoonably-wide mouth.  An 'old fashioned' style tumbler is probably pretty good; or you could use a red wine glass or martini glass.  You'll miss the theatrical effects of the cylinder, but the food will still taste good.

Step 8: Plate & Serve

Place your cylinder in the center of a neutral-colored, shallow bowl.  (If you're using a glass, place it on a nice white napkin so everyone will be able to admire the contents against a light-colored backdrop.)

Scoop in:
- ginger gelee chunks, 3-4 spoonfuls
- spoonful of roe
- sprinkle of scallions
- 2 oysters
- spoonful of oyster juices
- 2-3 spoonfuls of beer foam (should be about as thick as the ginger gelee layer)

Present the bowls to your unwitting diners, and tell them to pick up the glass and drink it like a shot.  If you've done your work properly, they'll be properly surprised when the bottom falls out of their "shot glass" and creates a tidily plated bowl of cold oystery goodness.