All About Oysters

All About Oysters

A good oyster has a fresh briny flavor. Many people prefer to savor shucked oysters raw on the half shell, but they're also delicious dipped in batter and fried, cooked up in a simple stew, baked in a sauce, or used as a stuffing ingredient for fish or poultry.

Oysters are found in the shallow waters along the coast of the North American continent. The oysters we harvest in this region range from two to four inches long, while those from the West Coast tend to be larger, except for the tiny Olympia oysters from Puget Sound in Washington State. In season, our raw seafood bars offer a choice of oysters from both coasts. The size and taste of oysters vary depending upon the location in which they grow. We're partial to the Cotuit oyster found on Cape Cod, one of the best-tasting oysters in the world.

For centuries, people have eaten oysters as an aphrodisiac. Similar to many a piece of folklore, this has a basis in fact. New England Oysters have an unusually high content of zinc, and element that affects energy and sexual potency, among other things.

As with any other shellfish, make sure that you are eating oysters from protected waters. If in doubt, ask to see the tags of origin. If the oysters have an off odor -- either closed or open -- they are spoiled and should be discarded. Properly packed oysters will last in storage about a month, but they should be packed top side up and stored flat, the way they were packaged when they were sent halfway around the world by ship during the last century. When oysters are packed sideways, the lose their liquid and spoil faster.

From the "Legal Sea Foods Cookbook" by Roger Berkowitz and Jane Doerfer, Illustrated by Edward Koren

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