PARIS, Dec 16 — Each week, Relaxnews invites a master chef to share insights into the gourmet kitchen by presenting a favourite ingredient. Julien Boscus is the recently appointed head chef at Les Climats, a Parisian restaurant known in particular for its wine list highlighting selections from the Burgundy region. He shared his love of oysters.
Relaxnews: What led you to choose this ingredient?
Julien Boscus: I love oysters — eating them is like kissing the ocean on the mouth. For me they represent vacations and end-of-year holiday celebrations with family.
R: What is your best culinary memory associated with this ingredient?
JB: It was with Mr Gagnaire, when I was a chef at his restaurant in Seoul, South Korea. He served oysters with a guava/green apple jelly, thin slices of ginger and cubes of frozen bananas. An impressive stroke of creativity that could only come from Mr Gagnaire.
R: When is this ingredient in season?
JB: There is a tendency to say that oysters should be eaten during months with an 'r': from September to April. But today, actually, we can eat them year round. It all depends on the variety of oyster and its region of origin.
R: What is the best way to prepare this ingredient? Can you share a recipe?
JB: There are several ways to prepare them. The simplest is of course to just open them and serve with a nice semi-salted butter, a slice of toasted bread (rye or wheat), and a finely sliced shallot marinated in equal parts sherry vinegar and dry white wine. They can also be eaten hot, but be careful: they can be tricky to cook.
R: What other ingredients can be combined with this one to delight and surprise the taste buds?
JB: They can be combined with cold sides, such as cauliflower, cucumber or green apple. Pork goes really nicely too! A nice slice of Lardo di Colonnata or cooked pig's feet can be a good complement. Also, they can be accompanied by smoked fish or caviar on special occasions.
R: What are the most common mistakes made when preparing this ingredient?
JB: The error is overcooking. When they are eaten hot, they lose all of their freshness and their taste of the sea. Also, it is important to open them at the last minute before serving to preserve their freshness.
R: How do you offer this ingredient on your current menu?
JB: We currently serve them warm. We add a touch of butter and a sliced shallot to the juice from the oyster, and we heat the oysters in this sauce. We add diced aged andouille (chitterlings sausage) from Rivalan Quidu in Guéméné, along with blanched leeks. For the holidays, we will combine them with foie gras. The combination is very interesting.
R: What wine (or other alcohol) is best married with this ingredient?
JB: Puligny Montrachet 2009 from Etienne Sauzet: a Chardonnay with a fair amount of contrast between liveliness and suppleness. Its toasted notes provide an elegant follow-up to the smoky note from the sausage. 2011 St Aubin, Clos de la Châtenière, 1er Cru, Domaine Hubert Lamy: a wine highlighting mineral notes, which corresponds nicely with the main element. Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos 2011 from J-P and Benoit Droin: a classic pairing, subtle and sophisticated. Special Vatting Peaty Malt Whisky from Michel Couvreur for its seawater. — AFP-Relaxnews