The Oyster – A bivalve worth boosting
Written by Shelley Skiles Sawyer
Photographed by Kyle Ripley, Haigwood Studios
It seems ironic that oysters, which have been around since dinosaurs roamed, ended up becoming one of the first obsessions of the “Where did my food come from?” trend. Ah, but there’s much more value to their story than mere pearls. Shuck, slurp and learn…
Oysters have rimmed the coastlines of the planet’s continents for millions of years. Anchored together to form reefs or beds, these filter feeders are essentially immovable, oxygen pumping, plankton sorting, water filtering machines that provide shelter and protection for other flora and fauna. When humans eventually came along, the calciferous bivalves provided an abundant, convenient source of protein, a hefty sprinkling of vitamins including B12, B1, B2 and C as well as minerals including zinc, copper, iron, selenium and calcium. All the better that the sessile snacks didn’t have to be pursued, making them nature’s very first grab-and-go fast food. And when bagged and hung off the side of a boat, a portable one at that.
History teaches us that the Romans were the first to farm oysters. Fast forward 2,000 years and it’s evident we still have much to learn. The pollution of rivers, bays, inlets and estuaries; dredging; poor shore management; and the exhaustion of wild species have spawned a need to both feed the ever-growing demand for more oysters and restore damaged ecosystems.
Tall orders yes, but thankfully there are those out there keen on restorative stewardship, however difficult that may be.
Excerpt is from an article featured in the SPRING issue of Flavors Magazine, subscribe today and don't miss a single issue!
Champagne/Red/White Wine Mignonette
Recipe provided by Oysters XO
Yield: enough for 2-3 dozen oysters
2 ounces champagne, red or white wine vinegar
1 small shallot (or 1/2 small red onion)
½ teaspoon white sugar
freshly ground black pepper to taste
In a saucepan on low heat, warm vinegar. Mince shallot or red onion and add to saucepan. Simmer over low heat for no longer than 4 minutes. Take off heat, pour into small bowl, add sugar and season to taste with black pepper. Place in freezer to chill for no longer than 10 minutes. (Alternately, all ingredients can be combined, unheated, 1 day before serving.)
To serve, place chilled mignonette in a serving cup with a teaspoon and place alongside freshly shucked oysters so guests can serve themselves. Alternately, add mignonette to oysters on the half shell before serving.