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All About Oysters

Hiding behind that ordinary looking shell, the oyster truly deserves your attention. Delicious raw or cooked, the taste and the texture are to be enjoyed and shared.


It's oyster season! Now you'll find a great variety of oysters at your Metro seafood counter. Start by checking out all these tips and suggestions and plan an unforgettable oyster party. Success guaranteed!

Oysters classification

Oysters are generally graded by shape and size. Taste is not taken into consideration.

Select = perfect shape

Choice = less than perfect shape

Standard = irregular shape


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Variety Show

Visit your Metro seafood counter to see the incredible variety—it's quite a show! Our experts would be delighted to help you… and even offer a few oysters for you to taste.

VarietiesCharacteristicsOrigin

Raspberry Point oysters

They are small to medium with a salty flavour and sweet aftertaste.Prince Edward Island

North Point oysters

​They are farmed and have a sweet, light fruity taste.Prince Edward Island

Beausoleil oysters

​They are round-or oval-shaped and have a more delicate flavour. They are farmed in a unique way: in floating bags just under the water's surface, which results in clean, sand-free oysters.New Brunswick

Malpèque oysters

They are the most well known. Round, quite juicy and with a very delicate texture, they almost melt in your mouth.​Prince Edward Island

Irish Point oysters

​Salty taste with slight green moss and sweet finish.Prince Edward Island

Trésor du Large oysters

​Meaty, sweet, juicy and salty.Magdalen Islands

Grande-Entrée oysters

​Sweet, salty and very meaty.Magdalen Islands

Conway Cup oysters

​Sweet and mineral flavor.Prince Edward Island
Exclusive

Foxley River oysters

​Firm texture with a salty taste and earthy finish.Prince Edward Island

Chebooktook oysters

​Taste sweet, salty and sweet at once.New Brunswick

When to Buy Oysters

  • According to the quantity needed and how the oysters will be used, it is best to buy them as close to the day of the party as possible.
  • They should be kept in the bottom of the refrigerator in the box they come in.
  • Placed in a cool basement (wine cellar for example), they can be kept from 8 to 10 days in their original box.
  • However, avoid thermal shocks and keep them at a constant temperature.

How to Choose Oysters

  • When you buy oysters, it is important to make sure they are fresh. Check the date of their harvest indicated on the box or ask the professionals at the fish counter.
  • Only buy fresh oysters for consumption on the half shell if they are still alive and heavy (full of water).
  • You can tell if an oyster is still alive because it is closed or will quickly close if you tap on it. Oysters can remain fresh because their shell creates a hermetic seal.
  • Once open, only consume oysters that are firm, plump, full of clear liquid, and don’t smell bad.

Shucking Oysters

To make shucking oysters even easier, before you start, you can submerge oysters in vinegar water for a few seconds, or steam them a few seconds, or else bake them for 30 to 60 seconds in a conventional oven at medium heat.

  • To avoid a metallic taste, use an oyster knife—a short knife with a strong handle and a thick stainless steel blade.
  • Wear a heavy glove or wrap a thick cloth around your hand in case the knife slips.
  • Brush and clean oysters thoroughly under cold water.
  • Hold the oyster in the protected hand, flat shell up, narrow end towards you.
  • Wedge the thin edge of the knife between the shells.
  • Slide the knife around to open the two valves and separate.
  • Lift the top shell and cut the muscle.
  • Remove any shell chips.

Being careful not to lose any of the oyster juice, slide knife underneath the meat in the bottom shell to release it.


More clever tips to make shucking oysters easier

  • Place oysters in the freezer for three hours.
  • The ice will have lifted the top shell and all you’ll have to do is slide the knife into the slit and bingo!
  • Let frozen oysters thaw at room temperature for a little over two hours.
  • Eat as soon as thawed, they will be as exquisite as if they’d just been harvested from the water.

Enjoying Oysters

Oysters are such a treat! Not only are they delectable raw, they can also be prepared in many different ways… It is best to open oysters l5 minutes before eating them or preparing the dishes.

The best way to appreciate the nutty flavour and ocean taste of oysters is to eat them raw. And there are so many species, so why not try a variety of different oysters! It’s the only way to discover and compare them

  • Clean and shuck the oysters just before serving, making sure not to lose any of their natural juices.
  • In a large platter, lay the oysters on a bed of ice for a few minutes to allow the natural juices to return.
  • Enjoy the oysters with a few drops of lemon juice, a mixture of red wine vinegar and shallots, perhaps a little horseradish or maybe even a few drops of vodka!
  • When opened oysters are placed on a bed of ice, they should be eaten within three hours.

Raw oysters

The best way to appreciate the nutty flavour and ocean taste of oysters is to eat them raw. And there are so many species, so why not try a variety of different oysters! It’s the only way to discover and compare them

  • Clean and shuck the oysters just before serving, making sure not to lose any of their natural juices.
  • In a large platter, lay the oysters on a bed of ice for a few minutes to allow the natural juices to return.
  • Enjoy the oysters with a few drops of lemon juice, a mixture of red wine vinegar and shallots, perhaps a little horseradish or maybe even a few drops of vodka!
  • When opened oysters are placed on a bed of ice, they should be eaten within three hours.

Deep-frying oysters

This method consists of cooking breaded or flour-coated oysters in very hot fat in a frying pan. For best results, the oysters should be cold when you begin the preparation.

  • First lightly poach the shucked oysters in their own juice, only to a simmer, not to a boil.
  • Drain, wrap in a slightly humid towel and let cool in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.
  • Heat equal parts of oil and butter in a frying pan.
  • Dredge the oysters in batter or seasoned flour.
  • As soon as the oil and butter mixture is hot, drop the oysters into the pan and cook for two to three minutes, turning them over only once midway through.

Useful tip for success in deep-frying:

For best results, drop the oysters into the deep fryer one at a time to avoid a sudden drop in oil temperature


Steaming oysters

This method consists of cooking oysters in a collapsible steamer or steamer basket over simmering liquid in a covered casserole. For maximum flavour, steam oysters in their own juice with fresh herbs or white endives.

  • Shuck oysters. Bring liquid to a boil in a casserole.
  • Arrange oysters in a single layer in a collapsible steamer or steamer basket.
  • Place steamer over simmering liquid, making sure the liquid does not exceed the height of the steamer basket.
  • Cover to concentrate flavour and aroma.
  • Cook two to three minutes. As soon as the edges of the oysters begin to curl, remove from heat.

Poaching oysters

This method consists in cooking oysters in a simmering (just below the boiling point) liquid to preserve all its tenderness. For added flavour, poach oysters in their own juice with fresh herbs or white endive hearts.

  • Open and shell oysters.
  • In a casserole, add enough liquid to completely cover the oysters and bring to a boil.
  • When liquid is boiling, add oysters.
  • Remove from heat and let stand for two to three minutes. Oysters are ready when the edges begin to curl.

Oysters on half shell “au gratin”

This method consists in oven-baking oysters covered with shredded cheese or bread crumbs. Oysters should be poached beforehand and set on a half-shell.

  • Open oysters.
  • Poach the oysters in their own juice.
  • Drain in a colander over bowl to save the cooking liquid and set aside.
  • With the reserved cooking liquid, prepare a white sauce.
  • In a large oven pan, arrange the oysters on half-shells, cover with sauce and sprinkle with shredded cheese or bread crumbs.
  • Set oven at broil, insert pan and cook for three to four minutes.

Culinary tips and advice

Your Metro fish expert carries fresh oysters in the shell, shucked oysters, marinated and smoked oysters.

  • When oysters are served as an appetizer, salad, soup or purée, calculate six to nine oysters per person. For a main course, calculate 12 to 18 oysters per person.
  • Oysters should not be cooked very long as they will quickly become rubbery.
  • A live oyster is closed. Its air-tight shell guarantees its freshness.
  • Once opened, eat only firm and plump oysters that are soaking in clear liquid and have a pleasant ocean smell.

Nutritional value

Like most molluscs, oysters are a good source of high-quality protein. Oysters are low in calories, low in fat. They provide a generous amount of iron: a dozen oysters can provide 60% of the recommended daily allowance. Naturally salty, oysters also contain phosphorus, copper, iodine and vitamins A, B, C and D and constitute one of the best sources of zinc.

Storage life

  • Never let oysters stand in water as this will cause them to open, lose their juice and die.
  • Oysters need to breathe, never store them in a plastic bag or air-tight container. Avoid any thermal shock and store at a constant temperature.
  • Do not open oysters more than three hours before consumption. Ideally, they should be opened 15 minutes ahead of time and served over ice on a large oval platter.
  • Fresh oysters should be prepared as soon as possible after purchase.

Expert tip

To make shucking oysters even easier, before you start, you can submerge oysters in vinegar water for a few seconds, or steam them a few seconds, or else bake them for 30 to 60 seconds in a conventional oven at medium heat.


Pairing Wine and Beer with Oysters

When oysters are served throughout a dinner from appetizer to main course, the wines and beers chosen to accompany each dish should be progressively stronger. Begin with a lighter wine or beer, and end with the most full-bodied.


For wine:

  • With fresh oysters served plain the best wine is a dry, brisk wine (Muscadet, pic-poul-de-pinet, Riesling or Chablis), which offer a nice bite.
  • Fresh oysters served plain or in canapés also bring out the fruitiness of young brut champagnes.
  • If oysters are served hot, in butter, they require a wine that is both tart and mellow: great Graves, Spanish Rìas Baixas or young Californian Sauvignons.
  • A Sancerre or Chablis is the perfect accompaniment for grilled oysters.
  • Oysters served in cream sauce can be accompanied by a dry, smooth, more assertive wine with low acidity (an Alsatian Grey Pinot or Italian Chardonnay).

 

For beer:

  • Slightly bitter beers that are not too strong but that taste of hops and grains go best with oysters.
  • Lagers in general are an excellent choice.
  • Ales and amber ales are also an excellent choice because they have a mineral taste and a bitterness that goes well with oysters.

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