Admittedly, the question would be raised. How come humans started to enjoy oysters? Indeed, difficult to imagine the first adventurous one who decided to try this grey, rough, rocky and “almost impossible to open” thing… What pushed someone to think: “Hey, what about this rock-hard kind of stone? What if I open it? Maybe there is something inside?”. Then, what did he think first, confronted to this slimy, shiny and nearly phlegmatic appearance…
Even though they are not for everyone, at the end of the day, what is sure is, since that day, millions of people have still enjoyed oysters for thousands and thousands of years.
A little history.
That salt-water bivalve mollusks that live in marine or brackish habitats, mostly all around the world, seem to have been eaten from prehistoric. They have been cultivated in Japan for at least 2000 BC.
Considered as a delicacy under the Roman Empire, oysters were surprisingly pretty cheap in the early 19th century in Europe and mainly eaten by working class. Eventually, the popularity of oysters and demand raised. This scarcity increased prices, converting them from their original role as working-class food to their current status as an expensive delicacy.
Good for you…
One of the good things (or good excuse) is that oysters are a very nutritious food. Though well known for their purported aphrodisiac qualities, these mollusks have a lot to offer in terms of health benefits.
The meat (the inner body part) is low in calories yet loaded with nutrients, including protein, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. It is are also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids (a high in omega-3 fats diet lowers risk of developing conditions like heart disease and type 2 diabetes).
For a 100 gr of oyster eaten, you will get over 100% of the RDI for vitamin B12, zinc, and copper, and over 75% of your daily needs for selenium and vitamin D.
How to serve and enjoy oysters (and when…)?
Of course, you can eat them eat them raw, fried, grilled, steamed, marinated or even stewed but for me, there’s nothing like the purity of a raw oyster which is almost sensual…
When you eat oysters raw, of course you can (should…) top them. What you can add is various and depends where you. The simplest way is to gently squeeze some lemon. But after that, you can of course be more adventurous and try new experiences by toping you oysters with red wine vinegar and shallots, chimichurri sauce, chopped bacon and finely diced jalapeno, grated fresh horseradish with lemon or lime granita, soy sauce with chopped chili or tabasco, sriracha and lemon juice or even shredded quick-pickled pears.
Serving raw oysters at home can seem intimidating to people who don't have a lot of experience with the shucking process, but it's actually pretty manageable. Don’t forget that it’s best to use a shucking knife then take your time and be careful not hurting your hands with it. Check this out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eDXKpCZT_KQ
Finally, it is important to understand that oysters are a beautiful delicacy you can enjoy with your friends and family all year round! Stop thinking it’s a festive dish only for Christmas or special occasions. Let’s have our weekly oyster pleasure and that’s it!
Written by Jean-Baptiste Couty