Rhubarb-Ginger Compote for Oysters

Rhubarb has the distinction of being first crop out of the spring gate and so breaks our winter dream state. Although some years, like this one, we’ve had to dream longer. But rhubarb is here, loving the cool weather.

I wrote a rhubarb story for the Georgia Straight several years ago that keeps showing up. It’s a nice, meandering story, perfect for a lunch break. Here’s the coffee break version and the recipe that accompanied it.

  • Rhubarb came to us from China, first landing in northern Europe and staying because of the climate. Sometime in the 1700s it caught on as being good in pies.
  • It’s full of vitamin C.  We don’t know if sailors liked it but it was on their ships coming to the new world and helped to prevent scurvy.
  • It’s a vegetable not a fruit, but pairs well with apples and berries.
  • The leaves will make you sick – not deathly sick (unless you ate upwards of 11 pounds) but miserable. They contain oxalic acid, something your kidneys don’t like.

There are thousands of recipes for rhubarb cobbler but this one? This little recipe puts rhubarb on the appetizer end of dinner. It’s good and it’s easy.

Grilled Oysters with Rhubarb-Ginger Compote

  • 2 rhubarb stalks, thinly sliced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1-centimetre length of fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 tablespoons mirin or sherry
  • 1 tablespoon white wine
  • 12 oysters, freshly shucked
  • olive oil

In a stainless-steel pot (rhubarb turns a nasty colour in aluminum and cast iron), add the rhubarb, shallot, ginger, mirin or sherry, and wine. Cook on medium-low heat until the rhubarb cooks down and the sauce is thick.

Gently roll the oysters in olive oil until coated and toss around on a hot grill (a grilling basket is the perfect tool) for five or six minutes, more for firmer oysters. Serve with a dollop of the rhubarb compote and some coarsely ground green pepper.