Pepper-Poached Oysters

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  • 24 large oysters with liquor, shells reserved
  • 1 (8 ounce) bottle clam juice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons black peppercorns
  • 2 garlic cloves, roasted
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Scant 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Lime wedges (for garnish)


  1. Drain oysters; pour liquor into a small saucepan. Add enough of the clam juice to the liquor just to cover the oysters. Bring the liquid to a boil, add oysters, and reduce heat to a simmer. Poach the oysters about 3 to 4 minutes, or until their edges curl and they begin to plump. With a slotted spoon, remove the oysters immediately, and set them aside. Reserve the poaching liquid.
  2. With a mortar and pestle or a mini-food processor, combine peppercorns, garlic, salt and allspice until they form a paste. Add two tablespoons of the oyster poaching liquid to the paste, and blend the paste. Drop the bay leaf into the poaching liquid, and return it to a boil. Reduce the liquid to about 1/2 cup. Stir in the spice paste, and then add the oysters. Remove the saucepan from the heat, and stir in the olive oil and lime juice. Refrigerate the oysters in the poaching liquid, covered, for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour.
  3. Place oysters on the half shells with about a teaspoon of the liquid for each.
  4. Garnish the oysters with lime wedges.