Oysters on the Half Shell with Spicy Sauce

Kaki no Momiji Kaké

The tiny Olympia oysters harvested off the Seattle coast are perhaps the sweetest, most succulent oysters I’ve ever had. One evening at Ray’s Boathouse, a well-known local fish and seafood restaurant, I had a platter of them with a wonderfully spicy sauce that reminded me of the Japanese momiji (“autumn leaves”) sauce, so named because of its burnished red color. The sauce can be made anywhere you can find fresh Japanese white radish, and I suggest you buy whatever local oysters are freshest and best.

Ingredients

“Maple Leaf” sauce

  • cup rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce (preferably usukuchi shōyu, or light soy sauce)
  • pinch salt
  • teaspoons sugar
  • 7-8 ounces daikon (Japanese white radish), about 8 inches long and inches in diameter
  • ½ teaspoon ichimi tōgarashi (powdered red chili pepper)
  • 3 dozen tiny fresh oysters, or fewer large oysters

Method

  1. In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar, soy sauce, salt, and sugar. Heat through (about 1 minute), stirring, to dissolve the sugar and salt. Transfer the sauce to a glass jar and refrigerate while you grate the radish.
  2. Peel the radish and grate it on the finest grater setting you can. Squeeze the gratings gently and pour off the excess liquid. Combine the radish with the chili pepper powder, and stir to distribute well. Add enough of the vinegar sauce to moisten the radish but not so much that it is thin and runny. (Leftover sauce can be used as a dipping sauce for cooked shrimp or clams. It can also be transferred to a lidded glass jar and refrigerated for several weeks.)
  3. Shuck the oysters and serve them on the half shell with the sauce spooned over them. If you like, cover and chill the oysters and sauce separately for 1 hour before serving, assembling them at the last minute.

,