1 box whole black peppercorns (for garnish)
1 box kosher salt (for garnish)
8 ounces seaweed (for garnish)
24 small oysters, shells scrubbed
1 seedless gourmet cucumber
4 ounces (1 stick) cold, unsalted butter, cut into pieces
Salt and pepper
3 large shallots, peeled and finely diced
3/4 cup dry white wine
1-1/2 ounces caviar, osetra preferred
Mix enough peppercorns and salt to cover 4 oven-proof plates. Place a generous handful on each plate and spread it evenly. Top with seaweed. Set plates aside.
Shuck the oysters (or have the fishmonger shuck them). Refrigerate oysters and place six bottom shells atop the seaweed on each plate. (Recipe may be prepared ahead to this point.)
Heat oven to 450 degrees. Peel cucumber, cut in half lengthwise, then slice crosswise into 1/8-inch half-moon pieces. Place in a saucepan with 1 tablespoon butter and cook over low heat until just tender but not soft. Season with salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice. Keep warm.
In a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the shallots with 1 tablespoon butter. When the shallots are soft, add the wine and boil until it is almost entirely evaporated. Working on and off the heat, make a beurre blanc by whisking in the remaining 6 tablespoons butter-a tablespoon or two at a time, making sure it does not liquefy. Hold in a warm place but not over direct heat.
In each shell, make a bed of several cucumber slices and top with an oyster. Place plates in oven until oysters are warmed but not cooked, 2 to 3 minutes. Meanwhile, season beurre blanc to taste with salt, pepper and lemon juice.
Remove plates from oven. Spoon 1 tablespoon butter sauce over each oyster, top with caviar and serve at once with wine.
Yield: 4 servings