I’ve been working with oysters for about 15 years and I’ve got to know this ingredient pretty well. Sourcing is key, particularly because it’s a food that tends to be eaten raw. So whether I buy English, French or Irish rocks, the most important aspect is the quality and how they have been grown. These days, I tend to buy farmed oysters. For my restaurant, we choose our suppliers carefully, only working with those that are farmed without adding chemicals or antibiotics that can be harmful to the surrounding environment. Farming also reduces fishing pressure on wild oyster populations that have suffered from overfishing, pollution and habitat destruction.

In spring we started sourcing all of our oysters from the British Isles - Morecambe Bay in Lancashire and Dungarvan in County Waterford. The Irish oysters have a delicate flavour whilst the English are stronger and more earthy. These types are always in season as the waters never rise above 18℃, ensuring constant fresh growing conditions all year round. Oysters can be eaten throughout the whole summer, but I think winter is the best time to eat them, because the flavour is clean and velvety. This is what I always look for when sourcing oysters. I tend to avoid creamy ones, however some people like them this way. 

At the Galley Restaurant, we serve our oysters two ways, raw with a squeeze of lemon and a little salt if you like, and tempura. When they are lightly battered and fried, it completely changes the texture. Many people who don’t like raw oysters, love them this way and it’s also a great introduction to oysters if you have never tried them before.

This summer, we have added oysters with Hendrick’s gin and cucumber granita to our menu. These flavours give the oysters an interesting kick and the granita is particularly refreshing on a warm summer’s day.

I am often asked the best way to open oysters, but I have opened so many, it has become almost second nature, so I hardly think about it. You need a good oyster knife, that is really sharp and a firm grip. Then open the oyster along the bottom right-hand side near the front. Then you can easily cut away the adductor muscle that attaches the meat to the top shell and gently remove it. It takes practise to get right so if this sounds a bit arduous, you can just come and watch our chefs in action instead.

If all the above has tempted you, then why not pop into my restaurant on Upper Street, Islington, where you can sample some of the freshest oysters served traditionally or in our own innovative way.

Find out more about visiting us us here.