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Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Oysters but were Afraid to Ask

Part 3:

For National Oyster Day, Samuels spoke with two expert restaurant Oyster buyers to get their top tips for ordering Oysters. MJ Gimbar of Black Salt and Sam from the Oyster House in Philadelphia gave us some great pointers on what to look for when selecting Oysters!

  1. Know where they are grown. Ask your fishmonger what body of water the Oysters come from. Are they from a protected natural resource? Knowing this ensures that your Oysters are coming from pristine, clean water.
  2. Know the harvest date. Want to know how long your Oysters have been out of the water? Check the harvest date. It’s also important to know if they were shipped directly to your supplier or if they were wet stored, which means they were held in totes
  3. Know the shell size. Depending on how you plan to serve your Oysters, size can matter. If you’re serving it raw, it’s just a matter of preference. If you want to grill or stuff your Oyster, you might want to go with a medium or large cup.
  4. Know the shell strength. If you’re planning on shucking 3,000 oysters for a Christmas Eve event, brittle shells may not hold up to all that shucking. Raking or tumbling Oysters during its growth period can make for a denser, more nicely shaped shell.
  5. Know when Oysters spawn. In the summer, you may want to go with a triploid oyster. These oysters do not spawn, so they are a great alternative to oysters that may be going through their spawning season, which can reduce the meat to shell ratio.
  6. Have a Variety. The Oyster House in Philadelphia sources Oysters from the Chesapeake Bay all the way up to New Brunswick, with at least one oyster from the West Coast available from the selection. This allows customers to experience the different nuances of each Oyster and the flavors that each body of water has to offer.
  7. Meat to Liquor ratio. You want a nice balance between the liquor, or juice, and the meat. This ensures that the oyster is not 1. Dried out or 2. Immature and harvested too early.


Follow the Oyster House @phloysterhouse and MJ Gimbar @blacksaltDC.