Oysters from the Oregon coast are the seafood of choice to many people and raising them is an important part of the Oregon Coast economy. Farms bring in vast amounts of fresh seafood, keeping the stores and seafood markets well stocked.
I enjoy most seafood, but not this type. Being that I eat by texture, I've never been able to get past the feel in my mouth. But, hey, I'm not everybody. I know there are big fans out there and this page is for you. ;)
Things To Know
There are 4 types that are found in the Pacific NW. The most widely-cultured is the Pacific from Japan. They are hearty and have a mild flavor that is highly sought after. Next is the Kumamoto. These have fans far and wide because of their smooth flavor. The Olympia is the true native of the West Coast but was nearly been wiped out as a result of poor water quality in the early 1900s. The European Flat oyster has all but been replaced by the Pacific, but still enjoys a following. Their metallic, salty flavor is very distinctive.
Just as with catching or harvesting any other shellfish, a license is required for anyone 15 years of age or older. The minimum size for a keeper is 2 ½" and the limit is 18 per day. They must be shucked on the beach (another of many reasons not to shuck them yourself) and the shell must be left at the same place and tide height where you collected them. These rules are for conservation purposes.
There are wives-tales that say eating oysters that have been harvested in the months without an "R" in their name are poisonous. Untrue, my friend, untrue. What is true, though, is those months are when the little critters are spawning and that is darned hard work.
At those times, you will find the texture ranges from soft and creamy to thin and flabby. Ick! Not a pleasant seafood eating experience. However, getting them from the cooler climate areas (such as the Pacific Northwest) tends to cause restaurants to turn a blind eye to the rule. The cooler waters do not seem to affect them as drastically as elsewhere. Not a foolproof bet, but better. The spawning is truly about temperature, not season.
These shellfish can be enjoyed baked, fried, steamed, barbequed or on the half shell. Most people will tend to cook them unshucked or purchase them pre-shucked. The reason being that they are very difficult to get into. You have to be somewhat daring while handling a sharp knife and cutting them open. Knife and shell cuts are not fun and are common if you're not extremely careful.
Let me cover some basic cooking methods for you before I tell you how to shuck these shellfish yourself.....if you dare. ;)
Click here to go to the Oysters Recipes page for some creative ways to cook them up.
Buying and Shucking
When purchasing, you want to make sure that the shellfish are fresh, that they do not smell and that, if any are open, they will close up with a simple tap. If you tap on the shell and they do not close quickly, don't take that one. They should all be lying flat. It is best to buy the seafood on the very day that you plan to serve them. Otherwise, store them in a plastic tub or on a pan and place them in the refrigerator, covered by a damp towel.
Alright, you daredevils, let's get to shucking.
To prepare yourself for shucking, make sure you have a sharp oyster knife and are wearing a pair of thick rubber gloves to avoid cuts. Below is a terrific video, showing the proper and safe way to shuck oysters.
In The Kitchen - How To Them!
By the way, if you're a gardener, the crushed shells can be used around prized plants to repel slugs in the garden.
Have a favorite Oyster recipe? Submit it here and come back often to see what others are contributing.
There you have it. Seafood served up any way you like it. Enjoy! ;)