Oysters

Also known as:

Olympia, Japanese, Eastern, Atlantic, Pacific, Bluepoint, Apalachicola, Cape Cod, Chincoieague, Indian River, Kent Island, Malpeque, Wellfleet, Belon, Colchester, Helford, Whitstable, Galway.

Description:

Waters:The oyster can be found in both the Pacific and the Atlantic waters of the United States, and many are named for their specific place of origin along these coastlines. From the Atlantic come the Apalachicola, the Cape Cod, the Indian River, Keni Island, Malpeque and Wellfleet species. On the other side of the Atlantic, the French coast is home to the Belon while the colder English waters offer the Colchester, Helford and Whitstable oysters.

In the water, the bivalves known as oysters wear a dark grey, stone-like shell that is clamped firmly around their pillow of pale beige to light grey meat.

Oysters are commonly sold in the shell, live, and so their appearance in the fishmonger's bucket resembles closely that which they possessed in the water. The prized flesh of the oyster is packed in a pillow-like body, which ranges in texture from quite firm to soft and watery, with a distinct, saline flavor.

Best Cooking:

Contrary to what the name of this category implies, oysters are best not cooked at all, but eaten on the half shell within minutes of having been shucked. However, they are also delicious broiled or baked, added to soups, stews, and stuffings, grilled in their shells until they open (just throw them on the grill), deep-fried, or very gently sauteed.

Buying Tips:

When purchasing live oysters, choose only those with firmly sealed shells if an oyster is slightly gaping open, you should tap on the shells and see that they shut immediately. When selecting oysters, pick the smaller ones for guaranteed tenderness. If you are buying pre-shucked oysters, select those that are uniformly sized, plump, with a good color and smell, and packaged in absolutely clear (not milky) oyster liquor (the juice that is held, along with the flesh, in the shell). You should use shucked oysters in their liquor within two days, and ought only keep live oysters for up to three.

Nutrition Value:

Oysters (raw), 6 medium
Calories: 57
Protein: 5.9g
Carbohydrate: 3.3g
Total Fat: 2.1g
Fiber: 0.0g
Excellent source* of: Zinc (76mcg), and Vitamin B12 (16.3mcg)

*Foods that are an “excellent source” of a particular nutrient provide 20% or more of the Recommended Daily Value. Foods that are a “good source” of a particular nutrient provide between 10 and 20% of the Recommended Daily Value.

Oysters are not a source of omega-3 fatty acids.

Notes:

Oysters are typically at their best during the fall and winter, since their spring and summer spawn makes them turn fatty and too soft.

To shuck an oyster, it firmly in your left hand, with your palm protected by a kitchen towel, and with your right hand, insert the tip of an oyster knife near the bivalve's hinge. Twist and turn gently to pop the shells open, paying care not to fracture the shell in the process. Once you've opened the shells, use your knife to slide under and over the oyster meat, severing the two membranes that hold it in place in its shell. If you nick the oyster while freeing it, flip it over in the shell for a neater presentation.

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