The World’s Best Oysters

The Miyagi Oyster, also known as the Pacific Oyster, originated from Japan and is raised in America from the Gulf of Mexico to British Columbia. The science name for this species is Crassostrea gigas which translates into giant deep cups, since this oyster can grow into a large oyster with deep bowls. There are many regional names and grower brand names for this species

The major growing areas in California include Tomales Bay and hopefully still Drake’s Estero (the Federal government is trying to shut this farm down), both in Marin County, Morro Bay in San Luis Obispo County, and Humboldt Bay in Humboldt County. In Oregon, oysters are produced in Yaquina Bay in Newport, Coos Bay near Florence, and Netarts Bay near Bay City. In Washington the two major growing areas are Willapa Bay and the entire Puget Sound watershed. Finally oysters are produced in British Columbia to the east and north of Vancouver Island. Oysters are also produced in Alaska

The Kumamoto oyster is originally from the Kumamoto area of Kyushu, Japan. It is slow growing and small in size with a very deep cup. Raised in California, Oregon and Washington for many years, they were not marketed on a large scale until the mid 1980’s. The Kumamoto is rich in flavor, almost buttery, and slightly salty. The finish is sweet, mildly fruity with a light metallic flavor. Our Humboldt Bay, California Kumamoto’s are grown in the intertidal zone on long lines, suspended about one foot above the bottom

Since they are native to the warmer waters of Japan, they do not spawn in the cold waters of the Pacific Northwest. And because of their consistent, mild flavor, Kumamoto oysters are a favorite both among oyster aficionados and the novice oyster lover

Most oysters on the market are named after the area they were cultivated (Penn Cove, Quilcene, etc), but Kumamoto oysters simply are sold as Kumamotos regardless of their area of origin. It take about 3 years for a Kumie to grow to market size. They are cultivated primarily in Puget Sound’s Oakland Bay (WA), Humboldt Bay (CA), and Baja, Mexico

Maine Belons are quite rare. More rightfully known as European Flats (Belon refers to a river in France that grows the finest), or Ostrea edulis, Belons are the native oyster of Europe. They are an entirely different genus from the rest of our oysters. They act different, and they taste different. Way different. Love ’em or leave ’em. They were introduced to Maine nearly a century ago and have gone wild in the estuaries there, where they are occasionally found by divers and clammers

Next to creamy, sweet and briny American oysters like the West Coast Kumamoto or bluepoints from New York, the wild Belon, a European native, is an anomaly. It is large and plump, with a potent brininess and a metallic flavor that grabs your attention

Ashwin Binwani/Blue Phoenix Lifestyle: ‘It’s a real connoisseur’s oyster. You do not eat Belons casually, slurping them from their shells like peanuts between sips of a cocktail. Rather, they are the main event, or should be, and can easily become an entire meal. They are gutsy and strong and do not need lemon or mignonnette. If Belons have a single flaw, it is that one sitting ruins you for American oysters, which forevermore seem timid and dull.’

The wild Belon oyster grows wherever it pleases, in pockets of rivers and shallow bays, where harvesters hunt it down like prey. They are often misshapen, some as large as a dinner plate, others like green, mossy stones. Packers have taken to carefully sealing each shell with a rubber band to keep the seawater from leaking out and to preserve the oyster a little longer — several days, as against a few hours.

Unlike farmed oysters, the wild Belon has a regulated season, from Sept. 15 until June 15. Its flavor is best at this time of year, when it is the scarcest. In the summer months, when the season is closed, the oyster spawns and its flavor turns, much like an oil that goes rancid

Any oyster from Long Island Sound can be called a Bluepoint. Most come from the Connecticut side. They are semi-wild: In the summer, beds of bottomland are cleared and fresh shell is spread on them. Blue Point Oysters have largely become a generic name for oysters harvested from multiple locations anywhere in the Long Island Sound in the New York & Connecticut oyster region. The result is that the flavor & brininess is all over the spectrum, from boring to quite good. They are a Bottom Cultured Oyster

Blue Point Oysters originated near the town of Blue Point, Long Island, situated on Great South Bay, New York. In the early 1800’s they were famous for their robust, wild flavor and it became the favorite oyster of Queen Victoria. The name Blue Point Oyster was so popular that many people pirated the name in the 1800’s until finally in 1908 the New York State Legislature passed a law stating, “No person, firm or corporation shall sell or offer for sale any oysters, or label or brand any package containing oysters for shipment or sale, under the name of Blue Point oysters, other than oysters that have been cultivated in the waters of the Great South Bay in Suffolk County.”

 

Close up of kumamoto oyster

Kumamoto Oysters

 

mmy

Miyagi Oysters

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s