Originally from Japan, this oyster has found its home away
from home in Tomales Bay, the shallow, nutrient-rich inlet north
of San Francisco. Kumamotos are petite, rarely more than two
inches across, but the sweet, tender meat often fills the entire
sanctum of the bowl-like shell. They are user-friendly, too—easy
to shuck and good well into the summer months—which helps
explain why pioneers of California cuisine like Alice Waters are
so crazy about them.
JWM MAGAZINE 49
The Ostrea edulis is found near much of the Northern European
coastline, but in the U.S., all O. edulis oysters tend to be referred
to as Belons. In France they are Plates, and in the United Kingdom
and Ireland the natives simply call them, uh, Natives. Those found
on Ireland’s west coast, in and around Galway, are as full-flavored
as any oyster in the world—briny, nutty and chewy. Don’t forget
the pint of Guinness.
The concept of umami might have been invented for these sensuous morsels, with their creamy texture and rich consistency. Japan
has strict regulations governing raw shellfish, but you can still find
oysters in-season (which is generally from late September through
April). You certainly won’t feel cheated by Senpoushis. These are
BIG oysters, presented in long, flat shells. Squeeze some lemon,
pour a little sake and go to work.
SYDNEY ROCK, AUSTRALIA
This is a true Southern Hemisphere denizen, common in much of
Australia and New Zealand and really nowhere else. Sydney Rocks
even look di;erent, with sharply fluted shells and long, slender
bodies. They can be a bit tenacious to the bite—I mean, they are
Aussie after all—but you will be rewarded with a creamy, pungent,
almost smoky taste.
Another oyster with a lot of
aliases is Crassostrea virginica,
variously known as the Blue
Point on Long Island, the
Chincoteague in Virginia and
the Apalachicola in Florida.
O; the rocky shores of Prince
Edward Island, C. virginica is
called Malpeque. Light-bodied,
clean and relatively inexpensive,
but with a nice picklish punch
to it, the Canadian version is a
perfect starter oyster.