A natural energy booster and full of zinc, calcium, niacin, iron, and a good protein source, oysters are often seen as a celebratory and extravagant food. This is a fair enough assumption considering the price of these delicious bivalves. However, if you are in the mood to indulge and experiment with them, then you are making a great decision.
Here at The Daily Meal, we were lucky enough to be supplied with fresh oysters from the New York Oyster Company. A family-owned business that's been raising oysters for over 150 years, the company prides itself on harvesting sustainable and high-quality oysters and other seafood as well. They've done such a good job that they supply many of New York City's top restaurants like Blue Hill, Esca, Bluewater Grill, and many others. Not only does the company source their oysters from wild and carefully managed oyster farms around the country, but also they reduce their carbon footprint by operating a recycling program for the mesh bags that the oysters are delivered in and then compensating restaurants that participate in this process.
Faced with such delicious specimans to work with, our editorial team went to work creating unique recipes. While many people may still follow the age-old adage that oysters should only be consumed in months ending in 'r,' we believe here that if you buy oysters from a trusted source that carefully tests its waters, then you have nothing to fear (plus, modern refrigeration and ice keeps them cold during summer months so there's no fear of bacteria growth — hopefully dispelling this belief).
One of the reasons that oysters pose danger or have been associated with high risk of food poisoning is that they are in fact natural water filters. Often, oyster beds are placed in dirty waters to act as a filtration system because they actually clean the water as it passes through them by retaining the toxins. This, however, is what makes them dangerous to consume if harvested from unsafe waters. Another threat comes from warm waters, particularly from the Gulf during the months of April to October, because bacteria grows more quickly in warmer waters.
However, if you buy from a trusted and safe source like the New York Oyster Company, and follow our safe practice suggestions below, then you should have nothing to fear and can simply enjoy the beauty and benefits of this magnificent food.
When you purchase live oysters still in their shell, you can store them for up to three days in the refrigerator on ice and covered with a damp cloth or wet newspaper. Make sure they are fresh-smelling, plump, and in clear liquor (the juice). Clean them well before shucking to remove any remaining mud or dirt. Alternatively, you can also store shucked oysters on ice in the refrigerator for two days (keep them in the shell with their liquor).
While they are delicious raw with a tangy mignonette or even with just a squeeze of lemon juice, oysters are also quite tasty cooked. They develop a tender consistency that has a subtle sweetness to it. As you'll see below, they can be fried, baked, sautéed, or grilled (which we didn't actually do — yet). Try a sample of the recipes below and let us know if you have a favorite way of eating your oysters.
What can I say? Fried oysters rock. And in this sandwich, they're the star...
— Maryse Chevriere
This dish takes me back to the food hawker stalls of Singapore. It's a quintessential street food with a mixture of textures...
— Will Budiaman
These escargot-style oysters are served in a toasted bread bowl with a garlicky, butter sauce...
— Yasmin Fahr
It's tough to beat the simplicity of raw oysters topped with a bright and tangy mignonette...
— Molly Aronica
Years ago, when I was working at Pearl, I read M.F.K Fisher's Consider the Oyster. It was then that I first learned about the oyster pan roast...
— Arthur Bovino
For me, there are really only two ways I like my oysters: fried, like at Pearl Oyster Bar to go with my lobster roll...
— Allison Beck
Whenever I have the opportunity to snack on some raw oysters, I am confronted with a real dilemma...
— Jordan Pervere
This post was originally posted August 18, 2011