Can anyone recommend markets in NYC to buy fresh oysters?
January 17, 2005 5:24 PM   Subscribe

Shellfish Filter: So I've recently discovered that I love Oysters. I don't know much about them other than the ones I've had at Doc's and Pearl (NYC oyster bars) I loved. Can anyone recommend markets in NYC to buy them,what types are the best? Favorite recipes/cookbooks? I've just bought the one from Pearl.
posted by clubfoote to Food & Drink (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Don't like 'em, myself, but Jeffrey Steingarten's The Man Who Ate Everything has an essay about the buggers. Can't go wrong with Steingarten. He'll tell you everything you need to know, and more. He's NYC-based, so there might be purchasing info in the essay. I'd check for you, but my copy is on loan.
posted by mudpuppie at 5:42 PM on January 17, 2005

Phooey! Oysters are wonderful to eat; they oughtn't be relegated to the status of curiosity.

I frankly think you don't want to bring 'em home; you want 'em opened for you, alive, rraw and wrrriggling, in a reputable establishment. The Oyster Bar at Grand Central definitely has the widest variety of oysters in town. I've also had mind-bogglingly good oysters at Aquagrill, Docks, and the Atlantic Grill. I like the local oysters, which are called 'Blue Point' (some, but not all of these, are farmed); and the Kumamotos. Occasionally they will have Kumamoto "XL" oysters at Grand Central; if you ever wanted to slurp an oyster as big as your face, well, there's your chance. I like maybe a droplet of lemon on mine, and washed down with something like a Pinot Gris.

I also like oysters in turkey stuffing; but in general I find that an oyster that wasn't alive 5 minutes ago has lost most of its virtue.
posted by ikkyu2 at 6:11 PM on January 17, 2005

those fish markets in Chinatown usually have oysters--you have to shuck them yourself tho.
posted by amberglow at 6:31 PM on January 17, 2005

I tried oysters for the first time at City Crab on park and 19th. I was drunk and did it at the goading of vidiot and chicobangs. But their selection is quite impressive. They were quite tasty though, and their crab cakes are phenomenal too.
posted by jonmc at 6:36 PM on January 17, 2005

random oyster advice: all other things being equal, smaller usually = sweeter.
posted by juv3nal at 6:53 PM on January 17, 2005

Chinese restos will sometimes bring you cooked oysters in the shell as an hors d'oeuvre, steamed with a little soy-vinegar sauce. These are very good. Going by the size of the shells, this would be done with oysters too big to serve raw.
posted by zadcat at 7:56 PM on January 17, 2005

I'm curious: What's the attraction?

(Please don't say "they taste like the ocean." I love the ocean, but I don't want to eat it.)
posted by mudpuppie at 8:32 PM on January 17, 2005

I love oysters, though have always been confused by people who swallow them whole. What's all that about? Do they even get to taste them?
posted by tomble at 8:37 PM on January 17, 2005

I'm with mudpuppie. My experience with oysters has been using lots of horseradish and slurping them down fast enough that you don't get much of the taste or texture. I think that's how the folks I was with (who acted like they had eaten oysters many times before) were doing things.
Anyone care to eloquently describe the joy of slurping the slimy bugs?
posted by PhatLobley at 8:58 PM on January 17, 2005

Skimp on the horseradish and Tabasco, although a little spice is great. Fresh oysters taste too good to smother with spice. Also, don't swallow them whole, you will miss all the taste.

For a real treat try to find some geoducks.
posted by caddis at 9:40 PM on January 17, 2005

With oysters, horseradish/Tabasco/lemon/pepper vodka/just about anything is a great little counterpoint to the flavour. Just don't drown 'em!

My personal favourite, found at Rodney's Oyster House here in Toronto, are Sea Cows. They're from New Brunswick, I think?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 10:12 PM on January 17, 2005

Oysters Rockerfeller is my favorite non-raw way to eat Oysters. I can't recommend any place in particular in NYC, but if you have a real cajun restaurant in town, you're sure to find some good oyster dishes there.
posted by stovenator at 10:37 PM on January 17, 2005

I second dirty. Nothing is better then some good raw oyester on the half shell with crackers and the kind of horseradish that causes your sinuses to go AWOL. I've personally found that's the only way to eat oysters, but that's just me. If you ever go to Destin, there's this New Orleans style place that has the best Oysters I've ever ever had. mmmmmmmm
posted by jmd82 at 11:43 PM on January 17, 2005

Chedabucto oysters from Nova Scotia are my favorite of the dozens of varieties I've tried. Very sweet but also very rich and flavorful. Malpeques from PEI are also excellent.
posted by TimeFactor at 1:51 AM on January 18, 2005

Also, I find any addition except perhaps a little lemon detracts from the more subtle flavors.
posted by TimeFactor at 1:53 AM on January 18, 2005

I find raw oysters boring and tasteless. Deep-Fried or backed in caserole they are devine.
posted by Goofyy at 2:25 AM on January 18, 2005

People who find raw oysters too snotty (and therefore gulp them down in one go) probably never experienced the flat oyster (huître plat) as opposed to the 'deep' oyster (creux). The difference in texture is huge: the flat oyster is a lot more consistent in texture, and tastes a whole lot better.

The world's best oysters are from Oléron, but they're probably not easy to come by in NY (not to say: expensive as hell). Also famous is the Colchester oyster (UK), which is less expensive than Oléron oysters.

Mine with just a bit of fresh pepper and only a drop of lemon please (they should contract a bit when the lemon hitsthem: a sign that they're still alive: that's when they're best!), although a delicate oyster soup is delicious too.
posted by NekulturnY at 2:55 AM on January 18, 2005

By the way, if you do cook an oyster, make sure they're steamed very thoroughly under high heat.

If they're not, it could lead to low shellfish steam.
posted by ikkyu2 at 7:03 AM on January 18, 2005

I like them raw. I worked at a company that for a holiday party had a raw bar. I cost them a lot of money that night.

As for cooking, I like oyster stew, which works very well with the jarred variety.

I've been meaning to try oysters on horseback or oysters Rockerfeller, but haven't gotten around to that--right now oysters are a bit of a luxury and I like the mouth feel and flavor enough that I'd prefer raw to cooked.

If you can find a good, solid old-fashioned church key, you can use it to open oysters at the hinge end in most cases (thank you, Julia Child).
posted by plinth at 7:17 AM on January 18, 2005


posted by Floydd at 7:27 AM on January 18, 2005

Okay, I might be slightly biased, but I think South Carolina oysters are the best in the world, and certainly this winter they are fantastic. I just spent the weekend eating them in huge quantities and they were unbelievable; this is the way they are best eaten. Simply put, you get a bunch of oysters, clusters are fine, toss them on a sheet of metal over a nice wood fire, cover them with a burlap sack soaked in seawater, wait a few minutes and be happy. Just slurp them out of the shell with maybe a little lemon or tabasco or melted butter; me, I like them straight! Failing the outdoor fire, you can steam them quickly and eat them like that.

MFK Fisher has a wonderful book (she's always worth reading) with some great simple recipes for oyster stew and such. She also answers mudpuppie's question better than I can.
posted by mygothlaundry at 10:54 AM on January 18, 2005

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