There is so much Arabic food in London, which I adore as in New York City we suffer from the lack of it. The Lebanese restaurants here are wonderful and in abundance, and I am always excited to try my Iraqi friend’s home cooking when am asked around. In fact, where I live in London, there is a small gathering of Persian mini stores in which I can always find large plastic tubs of Sumac or pomegranate molasses when need be. I bought a great Arabic cookbook several months back, “Malouf”, and when I get in the mood I sift through its pages to find some inspiration. I was also recently looking through one of my other favorite books for inspiration, “The Flavour Thesaurus”, and saw a passage that said how delicious the pairing of bacon and oysters can be, as well as celery with oysters. I liked the idea better pairing the oysters with prosciutto, as it seemed more delicate and in tune with the oyster than a big slab of bacon. I was craving to cook something Middle Eastern influenced, as it’s been so hot and sultry lately in London, so I then created this recipe in celebration, as it is never hot and sultry in this city. Oysters (especially from this part of the world) are incredibly delicious and satisfying on a hot summer’s evening and paired with a bit of exotic Arabic spices it seems quite fitting. This is great served as an appetizer with my recipe for cumin seared tuna with aubergine, or simply eaten on its own with a large glass of something fizzy.
One dozen serves 2 as a starter, or double the oysters for a main.
12 Oysters shucked and juices left in
Tomato Relish (* Attention: Six hours slow roasting time)
(You can make this and save the remainder for spreading on toast or eat with eggs made into an omelette or simply scrambled)
Cherry tomatoes (about 15 to twenty)
Prusciutto 5 slices diced into small squares
½ cup parsley
2 small artichokes (buy them canned brined in water)
50 ml. red wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic grated
One chilli diced fine
Dash of fenugreek powder
25 grams of sugar
4 mint leaves
Dissolve the sugar in 15 ml water. Simmer until it melts and then add a little more water if needed. Cook it until it is thick and golden and forms a syrup. In the meantime half your tomatoes and place on a foil wrapped baking pan. Place the tomatoes in the pan and sprinkle a little olive oil and sea salt all over them. Turn them all so the round bits are facing up. Then take your syrup and pour over them so they are all covered. Place in the oven, gas mark at about 75 degrees and with the grill on, for about five hours or until the skin is very wrinkled and they have shrunk by about 35 percent.
Sauté your prosciutto and add a dash of fenugreek powder and a little olive oil. Cook until crispy. Set aside.
Tear the leaves off of the artichokes gently and cut them down neatly. Chop the insides finely. Add the remaining ingredients including your prosciutto. Take your roasted tomatoes and dice finely and add to the mixture. Season to taste. Set aside.
Prosciutto wrapped Oysters
1 stalk of celery sliced finely
Small pad of butter
Prosciutto 4 slices
1 tblsp of chopped parsley
Dash of sumac
1 spoonful of Tzakiki or even plain Greek yoghurt can be used if in a haste (recipe is found under “cumin crusted tuna and Aubergine”)
Sauté the celery in the butter until slightly softened but still crunchy. Set aside.
Take four oysters and lay on top of the four slices of prosciutto. Make sure to keep the shells. Sprinkle with the parsley, sumac, and celery. Save the remaining celery for the vinaigrette. Roll them up and pin with a toothpick. Take a little olive oil in a pan and heat to medium. Sear your wrapped oysters for about two to three minutes on the first side and turn. Place on paper towels to drain and crisp up.
½ shallot diced very fine
Remaining sautéed celery
2 teaspoons of sherry vinegar
Pinch of sugar or squirt of agave syrup
1 teaspoon finely chopped mint
Salt and pepper to taste
Mix well and set aside to pickle for about 3 minutes.
Place six oysters onto two plates. Scoop them away from the shell so they can easily be swallowed. Place the tomatoes relish on top of four of them, and a mint leaf on top of that. Place the prosciutto oysters back into their shells and top with a tiny dash of tzakiki or Greek yoghurt to one side. Dust with a little sumac over the top and drizzle a dash of olive oil onto it if using plain Greek yoghurt. Then add about a spoonful of vinaigrette on top of the remaining four. Ready to serve.