Oyster Tasting

2012-08-24

I recently started eating raw oysters at home as appetizers. I was at Pike Place Market and looking at oysters when I asked if I could eat these raw. "Yeah but you need a shucking knife." responded the oyster guy. Preparing raw oysters at my house had never really occurred to me before. Because of them being raw I felt like they needed to be prepared in a professional restaurant environment but after purchasing a shucking knife I found it was remarkably easy.

Shucking is not too hard (But not too easy either). Here is a 3.5 minute video on how:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uy-rbEXFwLw

Note: the glove is very important. The first time I tried shucking I just held the oyster in my bare hand and ended up stabbing myself very badly. If you don't have a glove, just get a dish towel and fold it and use it to hold the oyster. Also I wouldn't try using any other kind of kitchen knife, the shucking knife is built very strong and a regular knife would likely be damaged.

I recommend going specifically to a seafood shop to buy the oysters and make sure you ask them if they are OK to eat raw.

You'll find you can buy 1 dozen oysters for anywhere between 6-15 dollars at a store. Depending on which restaurant you get them at they will cost you considerably more. I've seen them for as much as $30.00 a dozen. Considering how they aren't even cooked this seems like a waste of money. If you wanted to duplicate a restaurant's braised lamb it might be a difficult task, but oysters will taste exactly thew same whether you eat them at a restaurant or at home.

I decided to do an oyster tasting as the place where I get oyster has 6 different kinds. I made three categories in which I rated the oysters in using a 1-10 scale. The first category is ease of opening, the second is taste and the third is texture.

I did not look at the price of each oyster while I was doing the tasting to avoid bias. Between each oyster I took one shot of sake to cleanse my palate. I got two of each kind of oyster so I could try one with lemon and one without. The prices are for 2 oysters except the Totem Point which is huge and only 1 oyster.

Here are the results:

Type Penn Cove Hood Canal Quilcene Totem Point Kumamoto Kusshi
Price $1.50 $1.50 $1.00 $.75 $2.84 $2.50
Openability 2 6 1 7 3 6
Taste 6 5 8 4 4 6
Texture 5 7 4 5 3 4

Overall my favorite was the Quilcene. Ironically the most expensive two got very low scores. Also the best tasting oysters seemed to be the hardest to open. The Totem Point is a huge oyster, perhaps 6-8 inches long and 2 inches wide. The meat tastes good but there is so much of it that it overwhelms you. I think this oyster is better used for cooking where it can be cut up. The Kusshi's taste was one that varied widely with and without lemon. It was neutral bordering on bad but with some lemon squeezed on it it become one of the better tasting oysters.

At some point in the future I may add more oysters if I find them in the store. So if you're like me and love raw oysters, go enjoy some without spending a fortune.