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Understanding the Different Oyster Varieties: A Guide for Seafood Lovers

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For any seafood lover, the world of oysters offers a tantalizing array of flavors, textures, and regional differences. Enjoyed as a culinary delicacy since the days of ancient Rome and still to this day, thought of as a prized ingredient in seafood worldwide, it is fair to say that oysters embody a rich heritage that spans across cultures and time. 

With everything from tinges of the briny and crisp to the buttery and sweet, there are so many oyster varieties and so many flavors to explore. However, each oyster possesses unique characteristics, making every bite unique. As a result, oysters are a delicacy that caters to every taste palate imaginable. So, grab your shucking knife and read about the different families of oysters across the world. 

Kumamoto Oysters: A Taste of the Pacific

Widely cultivated along the United States Pacific Coast and given the nickname “kumis,” Kumamoto oysters have a smaller, deeper shell than most of their European cousins. These oysters are great for first-timers, as the Kumamoto has a milder taste. Often referred to as a sweeter taste with hues of melon or cucumber, this oyster still retains that buttery texture enthusiasts love. The flavor of these oysters is best experienced when eating them raw. Alcohol that pairs nicely with the Kumamoto Oyster includes sherry and chardonnay. 

Blue Point Oysters: The Classic East Coast Delight

Harvested from the shores of Long Island, New York, Blue Point oysters have a rich history and a devoted following. One of the most popular types of oysters, they have a brinier, saltier flavor which pairs well with fresh lemon juice or a cocktail. Often grilled or boiled with butter or sriracha, these are versatile oysters and a favorite of many oyster enthusiasts. 

Malpeque Oysters: Canadian Coastal Treasures

Originating from one of the appellations of Prince Edward Island, Canada, these medium-sized Malpeque oysters have a deep cup and a pear-shaped shell. They are high in brininess but boast a well-balanced flavor with a sweet finish. Though they are great raw, they are often used in recipes. Some ideas to consider when using these oysters to cook include:

  • Seafood Stew: Combine the oysters with flavors of the sea to create a nourishing, comforting stew.

  • Grilled: Grill Malpeque Oysters for around 5-6 minutes on either side to create a simple but elegant taste.

  • Chowder: The taste of this type of oyster, when combined with fennel seeds, onions and celery, creates a delicious chowder. Serve it up with bread and butter or potatoes for some excellent comfort food. 

Fanny Bay Oysters: West Coast Wonder

Native to the pristine waters of British Columbia, Fanny Bay oysters offer a unique flavor profile. One of the first widely distributed oyster species, Fanny Bay oysters have sweeter buttery tones wrapped in a beautifully deep and bowl-shaped shell. As a result, these oysters have a beauty and deliciousness that sets them apart from other oysters. 

Like most other oysters, they are best enjoyed raw, though some people cook them briefly to enhance their flavors. 

Belon Oysters: A French Delicacy

Taken from the Belon river they are named after, located in the coastal regions of Brittany, France, Belon oysters are highly sought after for their unique and captivating flavor. They have a distinct mineral and earthy taste, often described as metallic, with a touch of sweetness. Because of their unique flavor, they are usually eaten raw to ensure the flavor is not altered. Despite this, chefs often use them to make soups and stews. 

The Maine Belon Oyster

The Maine Belon oyster is particularly rare. It is estimated that there are only around 5,000 harvested per year in the Northeastern area of America. So, If you are ever lucky enough to experience the taste of a Maine Belon, be sure to enjoy it. These shells set themselves apart from the rest with their green shell that is a result of the algae in the seas they are farmed from. 

There’s an Oyster for Everyone

If you love seafood, exploring the different tastes oysters have to offer is a definite must. From delicate sweetness to briny richness, each oyster offers a taste which has been cultivated by the environment they’ve lived in. When exploring the different varieties of oysters, you are not only introducing yourself to new flavors; you are also embarking on a global culinary adventure. So, no matter which flavors you prefer, be sure to expand your horizons. You never know which is the next taste you’ll grow to love. 

Visit the Oyster Bar today, located just outside Naxos Taverna, and enjoy the oysters we have to offer!