What Kinds of Oysters Can You Find In Your Neck of the Woods

, a local food expert for About Food shares these tips about types of oysters available for the picking.

A person used to be able to simply order a dozen oysters. No more. Raw bars present patrons with lists of dozens of oysters to chose from. Wellfleets are prized in New England, New Yorkers love their Blue Points, and Kumamotos rule on the West Coast. Yet there are just five species of oysters harvested in the U.S., all other differences come from where they live, the water they filter, and how they’re handled.

Their taste, in the end, is local.

Whether you’re headed to a raw bar or to the market, this guide will help you decipher the world of oyster labeling and oyster types. Looking to prepare them at home? See How to Shuck Oysters and Sauces for Oysters on the Half-Shell. Or, perhaps you’s prefer to cook them? Grilled Oysters are a favorite of mine.

pacific-oysters.jpg - Photo © Molly Watson
Pacific Oysters. Photo © Molly Watson

1. Crassostrea gigas – Pacific Oysters

Pacific oysters are small and sweet and the world’s most cultivated oyster. They are growing in popularity in both Europe and the West Coast, where they are starting to over-run the native Olympia (below). Pacific oysters used to be used to describe all small Pacific oysters like Kumamotos and Miyagis. Kumamotos, however, were found to be their own species (below). Pacifics have a distinctly more fluted, sharply pointed shell than Atlantics or European flats.

Today, Pacifics are usually named after where they are grown, such as Totten Inlet and Fanny Bay, but some are trade names such as the justly well-known Sweetwater oyster from Hog Island Oyster Company.

 - Photo © Molly Watson
Kumamoto Oysters. Photo © Molly Watson

2. Crassostrea sikamea – Kumamoto Oysters

Kumamotos are small, sweet, almost nutty oysters characterized by their deep, almost bowl-shaped shell. Like Pacifics, they have deeply fluted, sharp, pointy shells. They spawn later and in warmer water than other oysters, so they remain firm and sweet well into summer months. Kumamotos are widely cultivated in Japan and the West Coast. The name Kumamoto is so valued that Kumamotos are always labeled as such, although some places will also specify where they are from.

Kumamotos used to be lumped in with Pacific oysters, but it ends up they are their very own species.

wellfleets-oysters.jpg - Photo © John Burke/Getty Images
Wellfleet Oysters. Photo © John Burke/Getty Images

3. Crassostrea virginicas – Atlantic Oysters (Bluepoints, Wellfleets, and More)

Many people are shocked to learn that Bluepoints and Wellfleets, Malpeques and Beausoleils are all Crassostrea virginicas, as are some 85% of oysters harvested in the U.S. (including most of those in the Gulf of Mexico).

True bluepoints are raised in Long Island’s Great South Bay where they were first found. Today “bluepoint oyster” is often used as a general term for any Atlantic oyster served on the half-shell (i.e. “New Jersey bluepoints” and “Virginia bluepoints”), which, if you know they are all the same species anyway, is amusingly absurd.

Wellfleet oysters are grown in Wellfleet Harbor in the northeastern part of Cape Cod. Enthusiasts correctly detect many differences between oysters grown in different parts of the harbor.

Looking For Just the Right Gift?

ScreenHunter_202 Dec. 09 21.161115151522aIMG_4220It’s that time of year when everyone is searching for just the right gift to give their favorite oyster lover.  Why not try a unique hand-forged railroad spike oyster shucking knife?  See more information about this process and the knives click here – https://halgonzalesjr.com/blacksmith-and-forge/ or email me at 51gonzo46@gmail.com.

Warm Up and Slim Down with Soup – Elegant Oyster Soup

It’s that time of your for soup – try this one – Elegant Oyster Soup!

Ingredients ScreenHunter_298 Jan. 24 16.49

Original recipe makes 6 servings

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup carrot, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 1/cup celery, finely chopped
  • ½ cup button mushrooms, chopped
  • ½ cup butter (or lower calorie whipped butter or margarine substitute)
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 quart chicken broth
  • 1 (14 ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepperIMG_8130
  • ¼ tsp dried thyme
  • ¼ tsp dried oregano
  • ¼ tsp dried sage
  • 1 cup heavy cream (or fat-free half ‘n half)
  • 12 shucked oysters and juice

 PREP 15 mins; COOK 45 mins; READY IN 1 hr

Directions

  1. Chop all vegetables with Ulu Knife as noted for recipeIMG_8902
  2. In a large pot, saute chopped carrot, onion, celery and fresh mushrooms in 2 tablespoons of butter for 5 minutes or until the onions are transparent.
  3. In another large pot, melt 1/2 cup butter and stir in the flour. Cook for 5 minutes.
  4. Whisk in the chicken broth to the flour mixture. Add the sauteed vegetables, artichokes hearts, bay leaf, salt, cayenne pepper, thyme, oregano and sage. Simmer for 30 minutes over medium heat.
  5. Shuck your oysters (hint try one of Gonzo’s oyster knives and shucking board)
  6. Whisk in cream and add oysters; bring to a simmer, but do not boil.

 

 

Happy Holidays From Our Home to Yours!

 Best Wishes for a Wonderful Holiday Season and a Happy New Year!

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ScreenHunter_202 Dec. 09 21.16ScreenHunter_202 Dec. 09 21.16ScreenHunter_202 Dec. 09 21.16

Make Your Own Oyster Po’ Boys!

IMG_8902Fried Oysters Po’ Boys… Mmm! Mmm! Good!ScreenHunter_120 Nov. 18 17.31

Start by shucking your own fresh oysters. Use 6 large shucked oysters; 1 1/2 pints stout, preferably Guinness; 1/2 cup all-purpose flour; 1 pinch seafood seasoning, such as Old Bay; 1 pinch salt 1 pinch ground black pepper; and Vegetable or canola oil, for frying.

 Marinate the oysters in the beer for 30 minutes or more.

Heat a few inches of oil in a large saucepot to 350 degrees F. Combine the flour, seafood seasoning, salt and pepper. Dredge the marinated oysters in the flour, and then shallow-fry until golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes.

Use your favorite French bread, cut in half; top with lettuce, tomato, and your favorite red or remoulade sauce.

Bon Apetit!

For information about the oyster shucking knives and oyster shucking boards click on underlined link or contact 51gonzo46@gmail.com.