It started nine years ago on a dare. Aisha Tyler, co-host of CBS’s daytime show "The Talk," considered herself a foodie. But despite growing up in San Francisco, a fresh seafood mecca, she had been afraid to eat raw oysters.
“My friends really loved [oysters], but I rustled up courage to try them,” Tyler says. “I’m an adventurous eater -- I eat sashimi -- but raw oysters were that last frontier of raw food.”
From that first slurp of the briny delicacy, Tyler was hooked. Now on most weekends, the actress and athlete (Tyler has completed marathons and does CrossFit daily) enjoys the cold-water snack. Her favorite oyster is the Kusshi, a West Coast delicacy that is tumbled so that its rough, irregular shell develops a cup that makes the tender, meaty oyster plump. Each Kusshi is about two inches, a manageable size if you love oysters, but don’t want a mouthful of raw mollusk.
Tyler understands that oysters can be a fearsome food, and recommends condiments for anyone trying to brave his first bite. She has several recipes for mignonette, a vinegar-based sauce for raw oysters, including a champagne mignonette with pink peppercorns and shallots, a lime gelee or a vodka grapefruit sorbet. She makes each of them from scratch, making sure the ingredients will complement the oyster without overpowering its natural goodness.
“When you eat them raw, it’s really about the flavor of the shellfish,” Tyler says. “You don’t make a mignonette too imposing.”
How to make Aisha Tyler’s Pink Peppercorn Mignonette
*2 tablespoons finely minced shallots
*2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
*2 tablespoons crushed pink peppercorns (use a pepper mill or crush them with the blade of a chef's knife)
*1/2 cup champagne vinegar
*1/2 cup rose champagne or sparkling wine (dry or brut, but not demi-sec)
*A pinch of sugar
*A generous pinch of salt
Combine all the ingredients in a non-reactive bowl such as glass, food-grade plastic, stainless steel or stoneware. The champagne may foam up. Taste and adjust seasoning to your preference. Serve on ice with freshly shucked oysters, using a tiny spoon so that you can scoop a little of all the flavorful bits into each oyster (don't dip or pour). Makes one cup of mignonette.
Why She Loves It:
“Oysters evoke sunshine, cold champagne and ice cold beers and sitting with your friends talking and laughing. They are a communal food because everybody sits around a beautiful icy tray of oysters and slurps them.”
“Raw oysters are really delicious, full of protein, you can eat a million of them; they go great with champagne or an icy martini for a fun party food that’s good for you.”
What Makes It A Healthy Meal
Gloria Tsang, R.D., a Vancouver-based dietitian and author of "Go UnDiet: 50 Small Actions for Lasting Weight Loss," says oysters are a great dietary choice for women.
“Along with clams, oysters are a top iron-rich shellfish for women, warding off anemia,” Tsang says, adding that women generally need twice as much iron per day than men do. “Oysters are also low in mercury, high in zinc, selenium, fatty acids Omega-3 and protein and very low in fat compared to chicken with skin or beef.”
How to Make This Meal Even Healthier
Tsang says that raw oysters are a good snack but can be made into an even more powerful dish by combining the shellfish with other macronutrient-dense vegetables. “Try oysters with a dark green salad -- it’s weird to eat cooked vegetables with cold raw oysters -- and ask for quinoa or brown rice as a side. Or you could have those grains mixed into the salad to make it a balanced meal.”
About The Chef
When she’s not working on her daytime show, Tyler produces "Girl on Guy with Aisha Tyler;" a podcast about topics men love, which was named best new comedy podcast for 2011 by iTunes. She also voices the character Lana Kane in "Archer," an animated sci-fi show on FX, and will co-star with Stuart Townsend on "XIII: The Series," a drama series coming to the Reelz channel this summer.