Did you know that northwest oysters are considered some of the best in the world? The reason our oysters taste so great is our clean waters. Different locations and environmental factors give the oysters distinct physical characteristics and flavors. Why just this week I tried a new oyster at The Walrus and the Carpenter: Sea Nymphs from Hama Hama Oyster Co, Hammersley Inlet, Wa – YUM!
Cynthia Nims, oyster aficionado, great friend and author of the new book Oysters: Recipes that Bring Home the Taste of the Sea says, “Oysters are so cool! They are filter feeders, filtering gallons and gallons of water up to 30 to 50 gallons a day.” That gives them their distinctive flavor.
Oysters from our pristine Northwest waters range in size from the tiny Olympias to large Pacifics. Smaller oysters, like my favorite, the Kusshi, are perfect for slurping.
Cynthia’s opening chapter really gets you thinking – “What is it About Oysters?” She adds, “They have inspired hip oyster bars, backyard grilling feasts and elegant celebration meals. They evoke songs, poems, and fashion shows. They satisfy our hunger, fuel our romance and feed our souls.”
Oyster purists say there is never a better way to eat raw oysters than unadorned, MAYBE with a squirt of lemon. For the uninitiated oyster-slurper, this can be a bit scary. Cynthia suggests “If it’s your very first oyster – and having a big glob of cocktail sauce is your training wheels, then go for it.”
Once the training wheels are off, try some naked or with fresh and light toppings like her Kimchi-Cucumber Relish – crisp cucumbers, finely chopped kimchi, rice wine vinegar, and a touch of soy sauce.
“Oysters have a richness that is complimented by things that are fresh, peppery, and a touch acidic”, adds Nims. I agree and love citrusy toppings like chopped tangerine segments, mixed with a little finely minced shallot, a grating of fresh horseradish or a dash of hot sauce and snipped chives –d’lish!
Being a great pal of Cynthia’s also means an invite to “cook book testing night” – which means a delicious evening of oyster recipe tasting: from Grapefruit- Basil Granite for topping raw oysters, or pickly Oysters en Escabeche, to silky sexy Oyster & Celery Root Bisque – yum!
Oysters, celebrate this tasty bivalve in every way, you’ll be sure to find a new favorite oyster recipe – I know I did! – Kathy
Enjoy on freshly shucked oysters.
Makes 1 cup, enough for about 4 dozen half-shell oysters
3/4 cup peeled and seeded finely chopped cucumber
1/4 cup finely chopped kimchi
1 tsp. unseasoned rice vinegar, plus more to taste
1/4 tsp. soy sauce, plus more to taste (optional)
In a small bowl, stir together the cucumber, kimchi, rice vinegar, and soy sauce. Taste for seasoning, adding a bit more vinegar or soy sauce to taste. Let the relish sit for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, to allow the flavors to blend.
Transfer the relish to small ramekin or other small serving dish and refrigerate until ready to serve, up to 1 hour.
Photo and Recipe from Oysters: Recipes that Bring Home the Taste of the Sea by Cynthia Nims, Sasquatch Books. Follow Cynthia on Facebook and Twitter.
Kathy’s Favorite Seattle Oyster Spots for Slurping:
The Walrus and the Carpenter
Taylor Oyster Bars