So you’ve decided you want to give oysters a try. Great choice – oysters are delicious and packed with nutrients. But if you’ve never eaten them before, the idea of slurping down raw oyster’s can be a bit intimidating. Don’t worry, with this guide for beginners you’ll be shucking and slurping with the best of them in no time. Oyster’s have been enjoyed by humans for thousands of years, dating all the way back to ancient Rome. While they were once considered a delicacy only for the wealthy, oysters have become more accessible and mainstream. You can find oyster’s on the menu at many restaurants, especially seafood places, sushi bars, and raw bars. You can even buy fresh oysters to shuck and eat at home. So what are you waiting for? Grab some fresh oysters, your shucking knife, and a lemon wedge. It’s time to dive in!
An Introduction to Oysters: The Essentials
Oysters are bivalve mollusks found in coastal areas and estuaries around the world. They live in saltwater and filter plankton and nutrients from the water. Oysters are considered a delicacy and known for their briny, mineral-y taste and texture.
There are five main types of oysters:
- Pacific oysters are common and inexpensive. They have a mild, creamy flavor and firm texture. Great for beginners!
- Kumamoto oysters are medium-sized with deep cups and a mildly sweet flavor. They are considered a delicacy.
- Olympia oysters are small, round and coppery in color. They have an intense metallic flavor and creamy texture. Olympias are rare and pricy.
- Belon oysters are round, flat and iridescent. They have a robust, nutty flavor that intensifies as they age. Belons are best served raw.
- Blue Point oysters are medium-sized with a classic oyster shape. They have a balanced salinity and minerality with hints of melon. Blue Points pair well with citrus.
Oysters are best enjoyed raw on the half shell, but they can also be baked, grilled, steamed or smoked. Raw oyster’s should smell fresh like the sea, and the shell should be tightly closed. Look for sustainable and reputable oyster farms. When done right, oyster’s can be a mind blowing culinary experience. Slurping down briny bivalves – what could be better?
The Different Types of Oysters Explained
When it comes to oysters, there are a few varieties you should know about. The most common are:
These are mild in flavor and originate from Japan. Pacific oysters tend to be creamy and cucumbery. They’re a great starter oyster if you’re new to eating them raw.
Also from Japan, Kumamotos are petite, round, and have a deep cup. They’re very briny, with hints of melon and cucumber. Kumamotos are considered a delicacy and can be on the pricey side.
Blue Point oysters
Hailing from Long Island, New York, Blue Points have a classic oyster flavor with a balance of salinity and sweetness. They’re medium sized, with a sturdy, crisp shell.
From Prince Edward Island, Canada, Malpeques have a robust, salty taste with a clean, crisp finish. They have a teardrop shape and range from medium to large in size.
Whether you like your oysters mild or robust, briny or sweet, there’s an oyster for every palate. Talk to your local oyster bar or fishmonger about what’s in season and fresh. Oyster’s are best enjoyed when they’re at their peak. Pull up a seat at the bar, order a chilled glass of bubbles or craft beer, and get shucking! The delicious world of oysters awaits.
How to Shuck, Store and Cook Oysters at Home
Now that you have some fresh oysters, it’s time to shuck and enjoy them! Shucking oyster’s simply means opening them. Once shucked, raw oyster’s should be eaten immediately, but you can also cook oysters in several ways. Here are some tips for preparing oyster’s at home:
You’ll need an oyster knife, a folded kitchen towel, and a steady hand. Hold the oyster in the towel, flat side up. Find the hinge where the two shells meet and wedge the knife tip in to pop it open. Slide the knife along the inside of the top shell to free the oyster. Be very careful—oyster knives and shells can be sharp! Rinse the oyster under cold water to remove any shell fragments.
Storing Shucked Oysters
Shucked oysters can be stored in the refrigerator up to 2 days. Place them in a container or on a plate and cover with a damp paper towel, then seal with plastic wrap or a lid. The towel will keep them moist. Throw out any oyster’s with an unpleasant smell before eating.
The simplest way to enjoy oysters is raw with a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime juice. You can also make a mignonette sauce of vinegar, shallots, and black pepper to dip them in. Chill the oyster’s in the half shell before serving.
• Oysters Rockefeller: Top oyster’s in the half shell with a rich sauce of spinach, herbs, and breadcrumbs and broil until bubbly.
• Oyster stew: Simmer oysters in a creamy broth with potatoes, celery, and herbs.
• Pan-fried oysters: Coat shucked oysters in flour or cornmeal and fry in butter over high heat until golden, about 2 minutes per side.
• Oyster po’boys: Fry oysters and serve in bread with remoulade sauce, lettuce, and tomato.
Enjoy your oysters—whether raw, roasted, stewed or fried, they make a delicious meal! Let the brininess of the sea transport you.
Now you know the basics about oysters. They may seem strange if you’ve never tried them before, but don’t let their appearance fool you. Oyster’s have been enjoyed as a delicacy for centuries and once you get over the initial weirdness factor, you’ll discover their briny, mineral-y taste is actually quite delicious.
The next time you’re at an upscale seafood restaurant or raw bar, don’t be afraid to order a dozen oysters on the half shell. Start with a milder variety before working your way up to the more robust, funky flavors. Take your time and truly savor each one. Close your eyes, smell the sea, and let your taste buds discover why oyster’s have been considered an aphrodisiac since the days of the Greeks and Romans.
Life is short, so get out of your comfort zone and try new foods whenever you can. Oyster’s offer a taste of the sea in a single slurp and now that you know what they are all about, you have one less excuse not to give them a shot. You may just discover a new passion and wonder why you waited so long to shuck your first oyster! So raise a glass of crisp white wine and say cheers to new culinary adventures. Oysters await!