Tips From The Oyster Meisters
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
“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