If you have read my previous blog on oysters, you can tell that I am a huge fan of this unique delicacy. I’ve been privileged to have enjoyed awesome oysters from around the world, which I thought I would share with other oyster lovers. Here are a dozen oysters that you will love.
- Saint-Vaast (No 0) from Normandy, also known as deep-sea oysters, popular in the winter months, finely cupped, soft mouth feel, subtle nutty flavors, not milky (spawning) at all. May be appreciated all year round.
- Fines de Claires (No 3) from Marennes Oleron, salty, bold tastes, elongated shell with a softer colored flesh. As their French name and origin explain, they are “nice and bold.”
- Prat Ar Coum (No 3) from Bretange, exquisite and rare species, flat with a nutty after effect.
- Gillardeau (No 2) from Normandy, finished in the salt ponds of Marenne-Oleron, soft, plump meat, yet chewy texture, scent of the sea and sweet. They can also be found in Ireland.
- Belon (No 0-2) from Brittany, rare/limited, briny, crisp bite with seaweed flavors, smooth soft shell. Sometimes minerally and at other times hazelnut notes can linger on your palate. One of a kind, something very unusual!
- Mallorcan (No 00-0) from Mallorca, Balearic Islands, large, plump, juicy, creamy. (These gorgeous oysters were not on the menu. But the chef Garcia of La Forteleza, Cap Rocat, was gracious enough to allow me to try them.)
- Gigas (No 3) or “Pacific Oysters”, fluted shell, fruity like melon flavor. Available in Europe or the Pacific coast.
- Wild Atlantic or “Virginicas” (No 2-3), known as a fusion oyster, tear drop shaped, sweet and briny, buttery and full bodied infused with rich minerality.
- Atlantic Blue Points (No 3) from Long Island Sound, high briny taste, mild, lots of liquids, satiny meat sweet finish.
- Parc de l’Impératrice (No 3), plump and briny with a sweet finish. I enjoyed these recently at Brasserie Vagenende in Paris. These beautiful oysters were produced by Joël Dupuch, who has been called “the most famous oyster farmer in France.”
- Edulis, European flats also known as “Belon” (No 3), unique and complex taste, super creamy, salty mouthfeel.
- Malpeques (No 3), from Prince Edward Island, rich, briny-sweet flavors.
Other Ways to Eat Oysters
OK, so if consuming a raw oyster is more than you can bear, consider the alternatives. There are many other ways to prepare and taste oysters:
- Grilled: this yields a custardy texture in the middle with crispy nuances around the edges.
- Char Broiled: lends a stronger taste when cooked.
- Southern Fried in Buttermilk & Cornmeal (aka "Po Boy"): the crispiness of the batter and the creaminess of the oyster inside are a perfect fried indulgence.
- Tempura Oysters: soft, crunchy, never overdone, dipped in an Asian sauce (hot, sour, sweet, salty) provides umami flavors.
- Stew or Chowder: the taste of the sea does not always come through as the oysters have to be literally in and out to maintain its delicate nature. The oyster liquor is not sufficient to bring out a seafood taste here and recipes generally tend to add canned or bottled clam juice. The cream and the mirepoix are usually prominent.
- Steamed in Wontons: silky, luscious and warm, works well with oyster mushroom combo.
- Sautéed in Tomato Sauce: the oyster here is sautéed quickly just like calamari so the result is not chewy. The sauce provides sweet and tangy flavors.
- Au gratin: cooked on the shell, warm, soft centered yet crunchy due to the topping and herbs.
- Stewed, Pickled or Scrambled with Eggs: I have not yet ventured to taste these.