Tips From The Oys­ter Meis­ters

Wine & Dine - - THE SEAFOOD ISSUE FEATURE -

Does size mat­ter?

"Size def­i­nitely does not mat­ter, flavour does! The en­vi­ron­ment the oys­ters grow in is what gives them their char­ac­ter. East Coast oys­ters, for ex­am­ple, come in lit­er­ally hun­dreds of va­ri­eties with dif­fer­ent flavours, shapes and char­ac­ter­is­tics that dif­fer dras­ti­cally from mile to mile and bed to bed. How­ever, from a ge­nealog­i­cal per­spec­tive, they are the same species of oys­ter. In a nut­shell, merroir is ev­ery­thing."

-Ex­ec­u­tive chef Jonathan Kin­sella, db Bistro & Oys­ter Bar

Spot­ting ‘bad’ oys­ters

“When you first pick up the oys­ter, feel if it is heavy. Then, knock the oys­ter lightly and lis­ten to the sound. It should be full rather than hol­low. Be­fore you shuck the oys­ter, check that the shell is clamped shut. If the shell is open, and does not close when you pro­voke it, the oys­ter has gone bad. Lastly, af­ter you shuck the oys­ter, the smell should be that of a fresh ocean rather than 'off-smelling' or fishy.”

-Ex­ec­u­tive chef Polo Seah, Hump­back

See­ing worms

“Worms may hitch to the out­side of the oys­ter shell, or tiny soft-shelled crabs (pea crabs) may ap­pear in­side the shell. Don’t over-re­act. This is per­fectly nor­mal and frankly, are signs of a healthy ecosys­tem. Rins­ing the oys­ters should elim­i­nate any resid­ual worms—they gen­er­ally are only on the shell, not in­side of it. And they’re to­tally harm­less, even ed­i­ble. The pea crabs are ac­tu­ally a del­i­cacy in the US. Amer­i­cans will sim­ply shuck them out and sauté them in a lit­tle but­ter. If that’s not your thing, sim­ply flick the crab out and go about en­joy­ing the oys­ter.”

-Travis Crox­ton, co-founder of Rap­pa­han­nock River Oys­ters

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