Oysters are synonymous with romance—hailed as an aphrodisiac and allegedly enjoyed 50 at a time by Casanova himself (for breakfast, yet)—but they’re hard for some people to love. What’s not to adore about a salty, slippery, soft-bodied invertebrate surrounded by two calcareous valves joined together by a resilient ligament? Well. “[A]n oyster, like a lover, first captures you by bewitching your mind,” writes Rowan Jacobsen in his 2007 book, “A Geography of Oysters.” So maybe some of our favorite stories about and recipes for oysters will, if not bewitch, at least interest—and inform, and let you experience their charms vicariously.
Is it like the sea? Like a cucumber or a melon? Like copper or smoke? The taste of an oyster depends on a variety of factors, and can be hard to pin down, but it’s delightful to try. Learn about what influences oyster flavors, and how best to describe them.
Get acquainted with these 12 types of oysters and their particular appeal.
If you want to get straight to the meat of the matter, here’s your guide to shucking oysters.
If you prefer your oysters cooked, this classically rich preparation is perfect, and historic.
Some of our favorite ways to enjoy oysters (other than straight-up and fresh from the shell, that is):
- Oysters with Prosecco Mignonette
- Oysters with Caviar and Cucumber Mignonette
- Oysters with Mignonette Granité
- Easy Baked Oysters
- Cornbread and Oyster Stuffing
- Oyster Shooter
- Oysters with General Tso’s Cabbage and Furikake
- Hangtown Fry
Zyliss Oyster Tool, $14.95 at Sur la Table
However you enjoy your oysters, you'll have to open them up first. This duo makes it easy.
See what other Chowhounds have had to say (and ask) about oysters over the years.
Don’t Eat Every Oyster
If it looks fishy, throw it out.
Beware of Metal Shucking Gloves
They can be useful, but are probably a bad idea if you’re dealing with cooked oysters.
A Geography of Oysters: The Connoisseur’s Guide to Oyster Eating in North America, $10.80 on Amazon
James Beard Award-winning author Rowan Jacobsen's first book about oysters is well worth a read even if you're still not sure about eating them.
The Essential Oyster: A Salty Appreciation of Taste and Temptation, $18.59 on Amazon
The author's second book on the subject is a fine follow-up if you just can't get enough.
Consider the Oyster, $7.89 on Amazon
M. F. K. Fisher's classic work exploring and exalting the oyster is another must.
Header image by Chowhound.