While there’s no wrong way to eat an oyster, there are some things you can do to make sure you’re experiencing them to the fullest. Oysters often reflect the flavors of where they're grown. Their terroir can vary by season, region and salinity of the water they’re in. Use these tips to help get the full oyster experience the next time you order.
- Don’t pour out the oyster liqueur or rinse the oyster with water. The liqueur is an essential part of the oyster’s merroir. Use it to help build the oyster’s full flavor profile.
- Carefully pick out shell fragments if there are any before tasting.
- Always try an oyster naked first. It’s the best way to get a pure version of the oyster. After you’ve tried one that way, add your favorite hot sauce or mignonette.
- If you’re trying more than one kind of oyster, taste them in the order of least to greatest salinity. For example, you’d try a West Coast oyster before an East Coast oyster.
When tasting, start by taking a deep whiff of the oyster. It should smell like the ocean. If it smells like a rotten egg or very fishy, throw it out.
Next, slurp the oyster, making a point to chew, not just swallow. Chewing the oyster releases the full flavor and salinity. As you chew the oyster, your saliva will bring sweetness out of the oyster while breaking down the glycogen in the oyster’s body.
Lastly, enjoy the finish. Like a good glass of bourbon or wine, an oyster will leave a lingering impression on your mouth. This can be vegetal, earthy, umami or sweet, buttery and creamy.