When you want oysters, freshness is a must. They should be alive up until just before they are eaten. Many people believe that the meat becomes poisoned if the oyster dies earlier before you eat it, but actually, they secrete an enzyme after death that changes the flavour of the meat. This is why it is so important to get the freshest ones possible.
Many restaurants have oyster bars where you can enjoy many different types raw on the half shell. Truly fresh shellfish do not need any embellishment to make them taste better. Oysters differ in flavour on their own depending on where they grew. Just like wine, they get their flavour from their environment. Some have a fruity flavour, some more mineral-like or metallic. The more you eat them, the better you will get at discerning the differences.
You will hear real connoisseurs describe what they are eating as buttery, creamy, briny, or salty. A meaty one may be called plump. Oysters grown near each other can still have different flavours due to the microclimates in their area. The water temperature also makes a difference. Cold water verities will be firmer and saltier than warm water ones will be.
Some people prefer their oysters cooked. They can be fried, broiled, grilled, steamed, or added to soups and stews. You can broil it with a topping of herbs and bread crumbs to create Oysters Rockefeller. You can also get ones that have been frozen, smoked, pickled, or canned.
Oysters and Wine
You may try some at your favourite oyster bar and they may offer you some wine along with your oysters. In most cases, they will have made some excellent choices for you to try. You can also request champagne, Chablis, chardonnay, dry sherry, dry Riesling or sauvignon blanc if you prefer. All of these wine varietals go well with salty flavour of these shellfish. Of course, you do not need to drink at all. They taste great without wine, too.
The ones we eat are not the same ones that we get jewellery-quality pearls from. While any oyster can create a pearl, only the Pinctada family produce the lustrous gems that have long been popular. Edible kinds are from the Ostreidae family. As one oyster lover put it, with edible ones, the succulent meat is the jewel.