Do you need a new dish to spice up your life? Are you looking for a culinary delight that will knock your socks off?
If so, gulf oysters could be the food for you. They also make great templates for chefs, since many dishes involve combining gulf oysters with a wide variety of spices and herbs.
But this leaves us with a question. What else do these gulf oysters have to offer?
Well, today’s the day we find out! Let’s take a look at the playground for flavor that is the gulf oyster! So without further ado, let’s dive right into it!
Origins of the Gulf Oyster
The gulf oyster is a certain species of oyster (also known as the eastern oyster, or Crassostrea virginica) native to the American South and the Gulf of Mexico. They grow in great numbers there due to the decreased salt level in the waters: high enough to keep the oysters alive, but low enough to not attract certain water-borne diseases that attack oysters.
Another bonus the environment brings to gulf oysters is the warm water. Since there’s no big cooling towards the winter, the oysters do not need to stock up on food as much during the cold months. This means their flavor stays constant and their consistency stays soft year-round.
Besides the savory flavor, gulf oysters are a source of regional pride for states like Louisiana and Florida. They’re so popular there that entire businesses and restaurants in these states stake their wealth almost entirely on oysters.
Oysters also freeze very well, retaining their flavor when thawed correctly. This also gives them a longer shelf life, making them big hits with local families and diners. Weight is also a valued trait with gulf oysters, as heavier oysters indicate both fresher meat and a greater amount of it.
Shucking Gulf Oysters
If you’re interested in shucking oysters, you’ll first need to get a shucking knife. These knives vary from their regular brethren by sacrificing a sharp blade for a wide center and sturdy body.
This is because shucking only requires you to cut through a bit of oyster flesh to get through. Opening the shell, however, requires some solid leverage (hence the sturdiness of the knife).
Once you’ve chosen your knife, gather a clean towel and protective glove. You should also place all oysters into a tub of ice to preserve them. Make sure to clean off any sand or grime on the oyster shell before you start shucking.
This is also a great time to examine the oyster and see if the shell has any cracks. Cracks are a sign that the oyster inside is already dead and rotting.
Once that’s done, take the oyster and place it down with the hinge of the shell facing towards you. Poke the shucking knife into the hinge and twist around until the shell pops open.
After that, you’ll want to look for the abductor muscle, which is a string of flesh that attaches the oyster to the shell. Press on the muscle with your knife to break it, then run the knife along the bottom to scoop the oyster meat out. When you’re done, place the meat onto the tub of ice and dispose of the shell.
It’s important to note that you should try to keep as much liquid inside the oyster as you can. Much like the juices within beef or chicken, removing this will diminish the flavor of the oysters.
Oyster Cooking Tips
One of the best ways to enjoys oysters is grilling them and adding a savory spice mix to give them some extra kick and a rush of flavor. Many companies offer chargrilled oyster spice blends you can purchase to avoid the hassle of creating it yourself. Roasting oysters in butter is another popular confection.
A new flavor combo some people go crazy for involves bacon and oysters. Try frying your oysters and adding them to a BLT sandwich to get a salty and savory sandwich to die for.
Oysters are also great additions to a soup or stew. You’ll want to cut them into small chunks to counteract the chewiness, but they give a nice zesty punch to any soup they’re in. They complement other kinds of seafood like crabmeat and clams well, making them great additions to seafood stews.
If you like swapping up texture consistency, try putting oysters on grilled toast with butter. The smoothness of the oysters coupled with the crunch of the toast makes for an enjoyable experience.
Of course, you can also go with the Southern classic: eat it raw. You only need to pop an oyster open and keep it in the bottom half of the shell. Add in a dash of lemon juice or your spice of choice, and then slurp the whole thing down.
Oyster Dining Tips
Something to consider when dining on oysters is the time of year in which you’re doing so. While innovations in oyster farming and food preservation have made oysters a year-round delight, summer is the peak season for oysters.
If you’re looking for sides to compliment your oysters, pasta is a great way to add more “malleable” (or receptive to spices) food while keeping the tender consistency oysters already have. Greens like spinach are also common choices due to the delectable blend of bitter and sweet that comes with the pairing.
But what do you drink with oysters? A common recommendation is combining drinks that have a bit of bubbly pop, like citrus or champagne. If bubbly isn’t your style, super dry drinks like martinis pair well with the briny nature of gulf oysters.
Fine Dining for All
And that’s a wrap! Now that you know all about gulf oysters and how to shuck, cook, and eat them, you’re ready to spring into a new adventure full of culinary delights! And if you want to add some spice blends cultivated by years of research from the best in the business, feel free to reach out to us and let us know what we can do!