Oysters: The Luxurious Shellfish

Delicate, mild, and briny, oysters are a popular seafood delicacy that we can’t get enough of. Let’s dig in to learn more about this tasty little delicacy.

What are Oysters?

Oysters have grey, mucilaginous flesh with slimy-briny liquid enclosed in a bivalve shell. The majority of these shellfish belong to the superfamily of Ostreoida, also known as the true oysters. Although all oysters can build pearls, not all are treasured. 

Pearl oysters, on the other hand, belong to the order Pteriida and aren’t considered true oysters. They are only cultivated for valuable pearls, unlike true oysters, which are considered a seafood delicacy, and one of the most delicious shellfish due to their extraordinary flavor. Oysters, although already expensive, are getting pricier with their rising demand. 

Image Credit: Yung-pin Pao from Pixabay 

What do oysters taste like?

Oysters are briny, buttery, and sweet in flavor with hints of copper and melon. While some oyster varieties are brinier, others are sweeter. The texture of oysters is firm, gooey, yet somewhat chewy. The plus point is, oysters are pleasantly mild without the typical fishy odor. However, if an oyster smells strongly fishy, it has probably gone bad.

Oyster Varieties

Oysters come in several varieties that vary in size, appearance, and flavor depending on their area of origin. Among many types, Pacific oysters, Kumamoto, Wellfleet, Bluepoints, European flats, and Olympia oysters are widely harvested in the United States.

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What to Eat with Oysters?

Oysters don’t really need overpowering condiments or sides in order to enjoy their luxuriously exotic flavor and are commonly served over crushed ice (to keep the living shellfish fresh) with just lemon wedges. However, you might have had them served right beside the iconic Mignonette sauce, which is simply minced shallots immersed in white vinegar and accompanied with coarsely crushed peppercorns, and sometimes salt and pepper seasoning. 

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Some more bold pairings for your oysters could be caviar, mushrooms, watermelon, kiwi, and any citrus fruit to complement the mild-briny flavor. When it comes to wine pairings for this exotic shellfish, we think a well-chilled dry white wine, a martini, or crisp glass of Champagne goes best.

How to Eat Oysters?

Raw oysters are a bit tricky to eat, especially when you’re in polite company. Thankfully, there’s not a universal way of eating them, but it’s always easier to savor them in a single big slurp so that the possibility of messing around with the slimy oyster is minimized. 

Once you make sure the oyster isn’t attached to its shell by turning it with your fork, simply slurp down the flesh from the widest end of the shell. To take in the complete flavor profile, it”s always recommended to bite the oyster at least once, before swallowing it whole. 

Image Credit: Flickr user pingpongdeath ( CC BY-NC 2.0 )

Oysters can be steamed, baked, roasted, pickled, canned, and even broiled. However, we find the grilled, fried, and baked oysters to be the most delicious options. A popular U.S appetizer is Oyster Rockefeller, in which oysters on the half shell are loaded with a buttery, herby green sauce, and bread crumbs followed by a gentle broil and served alongside lemon wedges. 

Although there are many ways to savor this squishy shellfish, we think the raw oysters are simply hard to beat!

Feature Image: Patou Ricard from Pixabay 

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