Shellfish may contain harmful bacteria and viruses that can be hazardous to our health, such as Vibrio which naturally occurs in coastal waters. Cooking safely destroys these germs to make shellfish safe to consume.
Master shuckers note the importance of chewing your oysters before swallowing. Chewing releases more flavor while helping spit out any that have an unpleasant flavor before intaking them.
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No matter if you prefer Champagne, Pinot Noir or dark and stormy stout – when it comes to oysters the key thing to remember is that they should only be consumed while still alive. If an oyster’s bill gapes open when tapping its shell and does not close when tapping again then its brain cells have died and should be discarded (though masterful shuckers usually discard dead oysters before reaching your plate).
If you can stomach eating raw oysters, some drinks that pair nicely include sake, white wine or cider. But cocktails or liqueurs should be avoided as their strong flavors could overpower those found in bivalves and any sauces may taint their true essence.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), raw or undercooked oysters may contain bacteria that lead to vibriosis, an illness which leads to diarrhea and vomiting. This risk becomes especially dangerous for individuals living with HIV, diabetes or with compromised immune systems.
Oysters have long been touted as being sexually stimulating. Although no scientific proof supports their sexual properties, oysters do tend to make people feel intoxicated or euphoric by stimulating dopamine release in the body and acting as a pre-alcoholic drink as their protein and mineral content help convert alcohol consumed into serotonin.
When pairing oysters, a crisp and fruity white wine should do just the trick. Sauvignon Blanc works particularly well, as do Champagne or Chablis from the Loire Valley. Dry styles like Manzanilla or Fino sherry work especially well due to their unique nuttiness which complements perfectly the briny flavors found in oysters; additionally, its unique flor-aging process highlights fresh ocean flavors for maximum enjoyment!
Oysters used to be an inexpensive street food, but as their popularity grew, wild oysters became scarcer and farmed ones developed as a cost-cutting measure – now being found widely throughout markets nationwide. Unfortunately, some individuals believe farmed oysters taste bad and should be avoided altogether.
However, that doesn’t have to be the case; provided the shellfish has been properly chilled after harvesting, you may enjoy eating it raw. At an oyster bar with experienced shuckers who know their stuff, the oysters should likely be thoroughly chilled before being offered as guests orders.
When it comes to drinks for oysters, many people like to pair them with mignonette – a condiment made of minced shallots, cracked peppercorns and vinegar that complements its flavor – however some chefs believe this overshadows its essence; therefore they recommend leaving it off the plate altogether.
Traditionally, experts suggest serving mignonette with white wines such as Chablis or Champagne; other may prefer adding lemon juice, as its tart bite can help enhance the natural sweetness of oysters.
At any rate, raw oysters should be eaten carefully as they contain bacteria called Vibrio that can lead to vibriosis. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), symptoms of vibriosis infection include vomiting and diarrhea; however if eaten from an establishment that harvests, cools, and cooks their shellfish before serving it the risk of becoming sick is much lower.
Notably, if an oyster does make you sick, recovery should occur quickly as once dead it begins decomposing quickly.
3. Hot Sauce
An oyster sauce should bring on some heat without becoming painful to enjoy it, and that means some pain for you as well as for your guests. Sriracha or Tabasco sauces contain multiple spices with just the right amount of vinegar to balance both heat and spice to bring out its natural flavors in dishes like this.
Though many fear vibrio vulnificus (an organism which can lead to gastrointestinal discomfort) when eating raw shellfish, there’s really no need for alarm when selecting an expert restaurant in oyster handling that follows CDC guidelines – such as Shuckin’ Shack which ensures all shellfish is thoroughly chilled before it is served; hence the odds of contracting illness from oyster consumption are very minimal.
Oysters are filter feeders that consume phytoplankton – tiny bits of algae suspended in water – in order to obtain essential nutrients necessary for survival, which explains why they only live near coastlines and rivers where water rises at low tide. Otherwise, their heavy shells would suffocate them within hours –
As for oysters being an aphrodisiac, there is no scientific proof they have such an effect. While zinc has been linked with increased testosterone production in men, that may be all they offer as far as benefits go.
Bear in mind that oysters don’t actually possess brains like humans do and therefore cannot feel pain as we do; but that doesn’t preclude them from experiencing life differently than we do.
So the next time you enjoy a platter of fresh Wellfleet oysters, remember to chew slowly and deliberately. Chewing allows you to better appreciate all the subtle nuances in each dish while making it easier to detect bad oysters early. Chewing also helps you enjoy tasting all that briny juice that resides within each shell which adds marine depth and flavour to each bite of food!
Return of patio weather and the start of oyster season always means I find myself devouring bivalves by the dozen. While wine makes for a fantastic pairing with these shellfish, one type of alcohol should be avoided with them: beer!
Alcohol does not eliminate bacteria that could make you sick from eating undercooked or raw shellfish, which is why it’s vitally important to wash your hands well prior to and after handling seafood – especially oysters – especially raw oysters with any coloration or debris floating on their surfaces, as this indicates improper handling or undercooking.
Vibrio bacteria found in raw or undercooked oysters can host an infection called vibriosis that results in diarrhea and vomiting; severe cases can even be fatal for some individuals. People at increased risk include cancer patients, HIV carriers, those taking immunosuppressant drugs such as immunosuppressant medicines for chronic liver conditions or those over 65.
According to the FDA, oysters are generally safe for most individuals as long as they are properly cooked. If in doubt about consuming an oyster, check with your local food safety agency.
Although pairing oysters with champagne might seem appealing, its bubbles will actually overpower any umami from the shellfish. Instead, choose from among brut or demi-sec champagnes produced without dosage (adding sugar and wine solution prior to bottling). Or opt for something more complex like Rieussec 2014 with notes of candied citrus, fresh melon and wild flowers for a truly sophisticated pairing experience.
Sherry is another great accompaniment for oysters, particularly lighter styles such as Fino or Manzanilla. Its minerality pairs well with their salty briny nature while being fortified wine it provides plenty of nuttiness that goes well with salty foods.