HOW TO EAT OYSTERS LIKE A PRO - AND SOUND LIKE ONE TOO.
Nothing packs a punch like a simple natural oyster. It contains all that is good and fun about the beach and the sea in every mouthful.
But these tasty morsels can be intimidating for first time oyster eaters. So we spoke to our ‘Boss-of-the-wash’ Steve about eating oysters like a pro. Even seasoned oyster lovers may like his tips…
Can we eat oysters year round?
It is safe to eat them anytime.
Our waters are tested regularly for bacteria and if we are open they are safe to eat.
That being said, oysters generally taste better late autumn and early winter due to the life cycle of the oyster. At this time of the year, they are generally richer in flavour and plumper.
Just remember that oysters are a completely natural product and some variation in colour, texture and flavour is normal.
The shell matters…
Take a moment to pay attention to the shell. Is it rough or polished and smooth looking?
The latter means that the oyster has been grown higher in the water column and has been tumbled by wave action. This creates a meatier oyster with a deeper cup and generally means longer shelf life.
You can tell how old an oyster is by counting the growth rings. Oysters eat at their best between 2 and 4 years.
Green Shell = Tasty Oyster
The general rule of thumb when dealing with food is to avoid anything with green on it (except green vegetables), but in oysters this could signal an exceptionally tasty morsel.
On an oyster, the green stain on the shell or on the gills of the animal is phytoplankton – this is the food they are currently munching on. More food generally means a more tasty oyster…
Never eaten phytoplankton… now is your chance!
To chew or not to chew… that is the question?
Chewing is essential if you really want to taste the oyster.
All of the sweetness and nuance of flavour is in the meat, so don’t rush the experience. Even if it’s uncomfortable at first.
Chew as long as you like and swirl the oyster through all parts of your mouth to get the most flavour.
What about condiments?
Do I just use lemon?
It is traditional for raw (natural) oysters to be served with wedges of lemon and buttered brown bread (no crusts). A more contemporary view is to serve them with a variety of toppings and sauces – shallot vinaigrette, blue cheese, champagne and caviar etc…
To really eat oysters like a pro… just lemon (and only use is sparingly). A few drops to brighten the flavour without overwhelming its natural volatiles is a good start.
What about the liquid?
Can I pour it out?
When they are freshly opened the liquid is largely seawater – so pour it off.
Within a minute or two the oyster will release more liquor from its membranes, this is full of briny flavour and you should keep this around the meat of the animal.
Don’t forget the wine.
In terms of matching wines to oysters think about the “terroir” of the wine and the “merroir” of the oysters – that is the impact the growing medium and environment have on the flavour
Our oysters are grown over seagrass meadows on a limestone base. The “sand” spit is made up of marine fossils and shells deposited over millions of years.
Pair wines that are grown on vines with soil structures that enhance and balance the Oyster, bringing out the marine quality of the wines whilst allowing the flavour of the oyster to linger pleasantly on the back palate.
That means wines grown in soils and climates that enhance natural acidity – From Australia; Clare Valley Riesling would be a great start. Adelaide Hills Chardonnay or Tasmanian Sparkling too. For something unconventional, try a Hunter Valley Semillon. Further afield, a fine Chablis would be hard to top, or a Vino Verde from Portugal would really liven up the flavour.