Oysters "R" fabulous
Mark Reynolds, owner of The Jolly Oyster, a gourmet food truck in Ventura, Calif., has a simple way of describing the mollusks he sells: “They are the single food that tastes the most like the sea.” Whether it’s their close connection to the ocean, romantic mystique or exotic flavoring, oysters are a popular selection at events, and may be offered with champagne or a sweet or fruity white wine to complement their taste. Here are a few tips from Reynolds to ensure that groups get the most out of the briny delicacy.
Five species of oysters are grown in North America: Eastern, Pacific, European, Kumamoto and Olympia. Each offers a different taste ranging from sweet to salty, fruity to metallic. Pacifics, for example, have a cucumber undertone, while the Olympia has a smoky, coppery flavor.
"R" They Ready?
A 1762 ordinance banned oystering in r-less months due to reproductive and storage concerns. “While some East Coast varieties can be problematic in summer, in California our culture methods and farm locations make them suitable to eat year-round,” says Reynolds.
Spice It Up
Raw oysters offer their own distinct taste, but the right accompaniment can make them sensational. Tabasco and barbecue sauce are simple alternatives, while a mignonette (minced shallots, cracked pepper, vinegar) or ponzu sauce (citrus juice, soy sauce, ginger) can make for an explosive mix of flavors.
Savor the Flavor
Reynolds encourages customers to chew raw oysters as much as possible before swallowing. This allows the palate to enjoy the different tastes of the oyster: the salty, the sweet, the fruity, the mineral and last, but by no means least, the “umami,” or savory flavor.
Grilling is a popular preparation method. Allow the flames to open the oysters naturally, then dab on barbecue sauce. Or go Rockefeller by adding Asiago cheese, spinach, ground bacon and butter for a more exotic taste.