Oysters--an expert's guide to a summer treat

Oysters--an expert's guide to a summer treat

Many locals are hesitant in buying seafood due to the devastation in the Gulf. The fact is most of the seafood sold in the Twin Cities comes from other places. Still, oysters are getting a particularly bad rap. But not to fear, you can spend the summer eating oysters to your heart's content.

Oysters are not only delicious, some consider them an aphrodisiac. While many cooks are too intimidated to prepare them at home, fresh oysters are not as scary as they seem. Having a good relationship with your fishmonger (fishmonger ...such a great title) is the key. Don't be afraid to ask questions. You'll want to select oysters that are tightly shut, or that close when you tap them. With oysters being procured from many areas, there is no longer a specific season to buy them.

Feeling a bit overwhelmed by the many types of oysters available locally, Hot Dish spoke to Doug Bigwood from Coastal Seafoods, who showed us 10 varieties and shared a little about the taste of each.

The key to shucking is a good pair of work gloves, and the right knife. The rest is about finding the oyster's hinge, working your knife in, and the most satisfying thing in the world--getting that beauty to pop open. Again, your fishmonger can show you how to shuck, and can help you select the right knife.

Oysters are best served simply, with just lemon, horseradish, or hot sauce. Or you can try a wonderful, traditional, and simple mignonette sauce.

Alpine Bay

1. Alpine Bay--Vancouver, Canada: Medium sized, briny at first taste, but with a clean finish.

2. Tatamagouche --Nova Scotia, Canada: A medium to large oyster that is both salty and sweet.

3. Jorstad Creek--Hood Canal, Washington: Medium sized, fairly plump, mildly salty, and the texture leans toward the crunchy side. Their flavor starts out with a subtle sweetness and finishes fruity.


4. Malpeque-- Prince Edward Island, Canada: Well-loved, medium-sized oysters that start with a subtle brininess and have a clean, fruity finish.

5. Sister's Point--Hood Canal, Washington: Small with a mild flavor, cucumber finish, and delicate texture.

Calm Cove
Calm Cove

6. Calm Cove--Hood Canal, Washington: Medium sized and relatively plump; their flavor starts mildly salty, then becomes somewhat sweet, and finishes with a fruity aftertaste. 

7. Kumamoto--Humboldt Bay, California: Extra small, but rich in flavor, almost buttery, and slightly salty. The finish is sweet, mildly fruity with a light metallic flavor.

8. Watch Hill--Westerly, Rhode Island: Medium, mildly salty, but full with a sweet butter taste and clean finish.

9. Blue Point--Long Island Sound, Connecticut: A medium-large meaty oyster with a sweet, delicate finish.

10. Chef's Creek--Vancouver, Canada: A medium-sized oyster, plump, with a flavor that starts salty and sweet, then finishes with a melon-like aftertaste. Very delicate shells.

Thanks to Marinelli Shellfish for their help with the descriptions.

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