The Koala and I had the pleasure of attending the Te Matuku Oysters on Waiheke on Saturday thanks to Jenny’s Tamarind Chutney and Te Matuku Oysters. Our first festival of any kind since last summer, the weather held up – aside from a couple of light showers, it felt like summer.
Waiheke is an island just a 35 minute ferry ride from downtown Auckland with loads of pristine beaches, a warm Mediterranean micro-climate and a focus on growing quality food and wine.
We started with a delightful pilsner from Albi Brewing Company and a complimentary 3 oysters each. We were in oyster heaven and gobbled up more than our share and at festival special prices, it didn’t hurt the wallet one bit.
If you love oysters the festival is time to gorge yourself on fresh, plump oysters. If your preference is natural with a squeeze of lemon (or Worcestershire sauce or vinaigrette), then shucked oysters are just $20 per dozen. To give you an idea of market price, a local restaurant sells the same oysters at $48 per dozen.
As well as oysters served natural, there were panko crumbed for $15 for 6 or $25 for a full dozen and oyster chowder was also on offer. There were also great cheese platters, raw fish salad, kebabs and sushi.
Onstage was a mix of entertainment including cooking demonstrations by locals Julie Biuso and Paulie Hooton of The Oyster Inn, music by The Mojo Risers, feel good covers duo Rook. A oyster master chef challenge complete with mystery box of ingredients, had 3 audience members showing off their culinary skills, though I think the performance of the day was an impromptu dance performance between sets.
The festival had a great vibe, was well run, easy to navigate with no queues and a zero waste ethos. I loved that there were kids ready to nab any rubbish we created and easy access to free water to keep everyone hydrated.
Oyster festival tips (for next time):
- Bring something to sit on: picnic blanket, camping chairs or bean bags
- An umbrella is good for for both showers and shade
- Bring sunscreen and sunglasses
- Catch a bus to the venue and enjoy the local tipple
- Bring an appetite for oysters
- If you stick around until the end, you might get some free oysters
If you’re in the market for some fresh oysters, visit the new Te Matuku store in Ostend, Waiheke or order live oysters for just $13 per dozen (excluding shipping) from their website here.
Oyster Tempura with Tamarind Mayo
Serves 2-4 as a starter
- 2 tablespoons Jenny’s Tamarind Chutney
- 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 1 free range egg yolk
- 1/2 cup ice cold soda water
- 1/2 cup rice flour
- 1/2 cup corn flour
- Vegetable oil for frying
- 12 half shell oysters
- Extra rice flour for dusting
- Garnish: Onion weed flowers and/or sliced spring onion
- In a small bowl, combine Jenny’s Tamarind Chutney with the mayonnaise and mix until smooth. Set aside until required.
- In a medium bowl, stir egg yolk with soda water until just combined. Add rice flour and corn flour and combine gently using chopsticks, leaving small flour lumps as these will add texture to the batter.
- Take a large saucepan or wok and fill 5cm with vegetable oil. Heat over medium/high heat until the oil starts to shimmer with heat. To test for correct temperature a cube of bread dropped into the oil will brown within 10 seconds.
- Add a little rice flour to a shallow bowl or plate for dusting. Remove oysters from their shells and reserve the shells. Using chopsticks, dust oysters in rice flour and dip into the cold batter, and then carefully place into the hot oil. Deep fry in batches of 4 or 6 oysters (depending on the size of your wok/saucepan) for 5 minutes until they are light and crispy. Remove oysters from oil and drain on paper towels.
- Drain the shells of any liquid and pat shells dry. Place shells a serving platter, place a fried oyster in each shell and season with salt and pepper. Dollop each oyster with about a teaspoon of tamarind mayo and scatter with onion weed flowers and/or sliced spring onion.