On Florida’s east and west coasts, coon oysters (so called because raccoons are their main predator) attach their oval, ridged shells to the coral of shallow waters and are considered one of the state’s great delicacies. Naturally, the oysters are often eaten on the half shell all along the two coasts, but never did I relish anything so much as the pickled ones that the wife of a retired Greek restaurateur I know in Sarasota prepared as a first course at a very fancy dinner. To prevent discoloration, be sure to use only white vinegar for this recipe.
In a large, stainless-steel or enameled saucepan, combine the oysters and their liquor, bring to a brisk simmer, and cook just till their edges begin to curl, about 5 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the oysters to a large bowl of cold water; let stand 5 minutes, reserving the liquor in the pan. Drain the oysters, arrange in a large, shallow ceramic or glass baking dish, and place in the refrigerator.
Add the remaining ingredients to the liquor in the pan, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and simmer 30 minutes. Strain the liquid through a fine-mesh strainer into a small mixing bowl, let cool to room temperature, then pour over the refrigerated oysters. Cover with plastic wrap and chill overnight.
Remove the oysters from their marinade and serve cold with small oyster forks.
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