Oysters are some of the most delicious seafood that you can ever taste. The sweet-salty flavor of its moist flesh literally melts in your mouth. You can eat it raw or prepared in various ways, be it broiled, boiled, fried, or as an ingredient in soups and other dishes.
Knowing the different kinds of oysters available in the market can help you in your cooking. Remember, each kind of oyster has its own unique flavor and texture. You cannot just mix and match dishes and oysters together. There are some oysters that have such a subtle flavor that it might disappear in stronger-tasting food.
Currently, there are seventeen varieties of oysters being sold in the market today. Each one has its own unique characteristics that you should take note of.
• Blue Point (Blue Point, Long Island) – first discovered in Blue Point, Long Island, the term “bluepoint oyster” is now used to refer to all small Atlantic oysters being sold. Even if they are small, bluepoints are popular oyster species that are readily available in any seafood market, or in the seafood section of groceries.
• Chilmark (Martha’s Vineyard and Cape Cod) – known for their briny, crisp flavor and a sweet aftertaste, these small to medium sized oysters are available from mid-October through mid-May. They can be served either chilled, or dipped in batter and deep-fried to a crisp, golden brown.
• Widow’s Hole (North Fork Long Island, New York) – a popular choice for some of New York City’s well-known restaurants, Widow’s Hole oysters have a rich, lively flavor and are best served chilled on the half shell.
• Malpeque (Malpeque Bay) – Malpeques rival bluepoints in terms of flavor and affordability. They can be easily identified by their pointed oblong shell and are noted for having a good balance of saltiness and sweetness.
• Moonstones (Rhode Island) – raised in the mineral-rich waters of Rhode Island, moonstones are some of the most savory oysters in the world. They are noted for their unique salty flavor with hints of stone and iron.
• Beausoleil (New Brunswick) – despite the severe climate of New Brunswick, these small oysters are able to thrive well and are well-known for their fresh ocean taste and black-and-white shells. Adding a squeeze of lemon or a vinegar dip further enhances the flavor of this oyster variety.
• Colville Bay (Prince Edward Island) – tear-drop shaped and with a jade coloring, Colville Bays are also well-known for its crunchy texture, nutty flavor, and hint of lemon zest. The fruity flavor of these oysters makes them perfect to be served as they are. No need for that lemon slice to accompany the plate.
• Glidden Point (Damariscotta River, Maine) – Glidden Point oysters are known for their unusually rich taste, brine, and crispness. These are considered as a treat when available. For veteran and first-time diners of oysters, to have a plate of Glidden Point oysters can be akin to being served a slice of truffles in a bowl of soup.
• Rappahanock (Rappahanock River) – due to its sweet, smooth flavor and less brine, rappahanocks are great for first-time oyster eaters and are best eaten during winter. They are the ones best served as they are, since adding them in soups or in other dishes can ruin their delicate taste.
• Belon (California, Maine, and Washington) – these small oysters are noted for their round and shallow shell, sweet-salty flavor, delicate texture, and a spicy finish. They can be eaten raw, or broiled for a bit and then served chilled.
• Baron Point (Washington State) – raised in the waters of Washington State, these oysters are a popular choice for diners due to its incredibly soft texture and sweet, musky flavor that goes well in the palate. For those trying oysters for the first time, eating Baron Points would be a pleasant surprise.
• Golden Miyagi (Fanny Bay, British Columbia) – Golden Miyagi oysters are easy to identify with their golden-flecked, deep shells. They possess a mild watermelon flavor and a very clean aftertaste. It goes down well and can be accompanied by a glass of champagne.
• Malaspina (British Columbia) – grown in beaches, Malaspina oysters have thick, heavy shells. Malaspinas are known for being plump and juicy, with a strong ocean taste. They can also be used to enhance the flavor of roast beef by garnishing them on top before baking.
• Nootka Sound (Nootka Sound, Vancouver Island) – these hearty oysters are well-known for their fresh, sweet taste and are raised right at the beaches of Nootka Sound. They are also amazing for their tender flash that melts quite right in the mouth.
• Olympia (South Puget Sound, Washington) – known as the smallest North American oysters, Olympia oysters take time to grow before they can be harvested. Despite the length, these oysters pack a lot of punch in terms of robust flavor and coppery aftertaste. These are more flavorful than other oysters twice their size.
• Kumamoto (California, Oregon, Washington and Mexico) – for those looking for fruity-tasting oysters, Kumamotos would be the best. They have a sweet, melon flavor and a dense, firm texture that first-timers and novices enjoy.
• Skookum (Little Skookum Inlet, Washington) – raised in the algae farms near Little Skookum, these rich and musky oysters are also among the most popular choices. Due to the algae, these oysters possess an earthy flavor that bursts in the taste buds.