Along with the first chill mornings of Fall, comes the arrival of fresh oysters to Bay Area fish markets. The general rule with oysters is that if the month has a letter R, it’s prime oyster season. If not, the oysters could be spawning, which leads to bland, milky flesh instead of sweet flesh with that distinctive salt water bite. With California’s world-class oyster industry centered just north of San Francisco Bay, in-season oysters don’t have to travel far to your plate. And you don’t even need to leave the house to shop for them! Simply visit www.dailyfreshfish.com/shop/shellfish to order the freshest varieties, delivered right to your door.
The idea of buying, shucking and cooking oysters can be intimidating to beginners. What do you look for? How do you clean an oyster? How the heck do you even get at the meat?
Here are some tips for finding and preparing amazing fresh oysters that are sure to impress any dinner guest.
First: You want to buy the freshest oysters you can find, from cold water. No problem. You’re in the Bay Area, and you have Daily Fresh Fish at your fingertips. If you happen to pick them up at a market, make sure they have stored them on ice, to keep them cool.
Second: Remember that oysters are alive until they are cut open. Oysters that have died and started to open aren’t safe to eat. That means you want to purchase whole oysters, still closed tight in their shell. If you see a shell starting to open, give that shell a tap. If it snaps shut, the oyster is alive.
Third: When you get these delicious babies home, put them in the fridge with their flat side facing up. Don’t store them on ice, unless there is a barrier between that ice and the oysters. Fresh water can kill oysters, just as suffocating them in an airtight container will kill them. The fridge is cool enough. To keep them moist, wet a kitchen towel and drape it on top.
Fourth: Cleaning oysters is easy. Simply run them under cold tap water. If you see any gunk on the shell, use a scrub brush. Clean the oysters only right before you are ready to shuck and serve them. After cleaning the oysters, get them on ice. The key is to keep these guys cool all the way up to the point they enter your mouth.
Fifth: Time to shuck. First, you’ll need a protective glove, and an oyster knife. No, you cannot use your trusty paring knife. An oyster knife needs to be very strong and sturdy. And if it slips, well, that’s what the glove is for. Start by holding the oyster with the “hinge” facing you, cup down. Wedge the tip of the oyster knife into the hinge. Now push down and twist that knife slightly, to create a gap. Next, slide the knife under the flat, top part of the shell, separating it from the meat. Take off the top shell. Last, run the knife under the oyster to cut it free from that bottom shell. Don’t remove the flesh, though. Keep it in that wonderful serving bowl nature has created.
Sixth: Serve your beautiful oysters on the half shell on a bed of crushed ice, fanned around your favorite sauces and garnishes.
Ideas for serving oysters:
Because there are so many varieties, consider an oyster tasting party, like a wine tasting party. Set up your varieties on different plates and let your guests compare the variations in taste and texture. (Right now Daily Fresh Fish has Fanny Bay Oysters and Kumamoto Oysters )
Oysters on the half shell can be a fantastic appetizer, or part of a buffet. If you are wary of serving raw oysters, consider grilling or broiling them, or making a tasty oyster chowder.