I had guests this weekend, and we all like to cook. That meant no restaurants and visits to a few grocery stores for ingredients so we could each make something. I mentioned my love for Dirty Oysters, a favorite seafood dish from Tin Fish Restaurants, so one of the dishes I made was this copycat version. Yes, it’s a bit decadent, but the tastes and textures are just amazing!
Originally posted on October 12, 2017, this post, photos, ingredient costs, and recipe were updated on July 3, 2021.
This Dirty Oysters recipe sounds splurgy, doesn’t it? It kind of is, but it isn’t as expensive as you might think. Here’s what I paid:
- 1 dozen Atlantic oysters
- 2 oz. Romanoff black lumpfish caviar
- 8 oz. Vermont Creamery creme fraiche $3.99
onion $0.79medium shallot $0.75
I’m no oyster expert, so I can’t guide you as to the best type to use. I just went to a local Fresh Market and bught what they had, which was labeled as “Atlantic Oysters”. They also had a tub of creme fraiche and shallots, leaving me needing the caviar.
When I first made this recipe in 2017, I was able to get black lumpfish caviar at Fresh Market. However, on this trip I was told they only carry (red) salmon roe caviar. I like it, but I felt like I should stick to black caviar since that’s how I originally made this recipe. That mean another trip to a local Publix, but they’re all over the place in my area.
Of course, this is the online era, and you can always order caviar online. The prices range widely, and you can spend anywhere from $10 to over $1,000. I’ve even seen 1-pound packages for over $1,500. Too rich for my blood, but if you can, go for it!
And while you’re at it, order a package of blinis (mini pancakes) to go with your caviar. Even with the tiny 2-ounce jar I get, I have leftover caviar. I also have plenty of leftover creme fraiche, and I have no idea what to do with it. Eating blinis topped with with creme fraiche and caviar is classic and just plain econimical—who wants to waste their extra caviar? LOL!
The key to this recipe is having your equipment ready and your ingredients prepped before you begin. That really means mincing the shallot and preparing a stable bed for the oysters.
I like to serve them on crushed ice since it’s readily available and essentially free. (I used it in shallow pasta bowls in the main photo.) Serving them on a bed of coarse kosher salt is also popular, and I often see that in a cast-iron skillet. But no matter how you decide to serve your oysters, a stable bed or foundation keeps the cup-like shells balanced and prevents the oysters’ liquor (the natural juice inside the shell) from spilling.
Once you have the prep work done and the serving dish(es) ready, it’s time to get to work on those oysters. Place the oysters in a colander and run cold water over them while giving both sides a good scrub to rinse away any loose debris. After all the oysters are cleaned, you can move onto shucking.
I had never shucked an oyster until I decided to make these Dirty Oysters. Thankfully, one of my guests had, and he gave me lessons. It wasn’t nearly as difficult as I thought it would be, but you will need a few supplies:
- Small scrub brush (to clean the shells)
- Towel or washcloth (to hold the oyster as you shuck it)
- Oyster knife
- Cut resistant gloves (optional safety gear)
And here is a great tutorial I found on YouTube:
Dirty Oysters (Tin Fish Restaurants Copycat)
A luxe appetizer of raw oysters topped with caviar, creme fraiche, and sweet onion.
- 12 raw oysters * (I used Atlantic)
- 3 tbsp creme fraiche
- 1 medium shallot or 1/4 sweet onion (I like Bermuda or Vidalia when using sweet onion)
- 3 tbsp caviar (I typically use a 2-ounce jar of black lumpfish caviar and have leftovers)
Peel and mince shallot or onion.
Prepare a bed of crushed ice in one or more serving dishes.
Rinse and scrub oysters, discarding any that are open. Shuck each oyster and place in the serving dish(es).
Top each oyster with 1/4 teaspoon each of creme fraiche, minced shallot/onion, and caviar. Serve immediately.
* Consuming raw or undercooked shellfish may increase your risk of foodborne illness, especially if you have certain medical conditions. If unsure of your risk, consult a physician.