AT THE TABLE WITH TREANA:
A GUIDE for ALL THINGS OYSTER
No matter what part of the world you are from, friendships and connections are solidified around the table. Our 'At the Table with Treana' series shares these moments where recipes, conversation and culture intersect.
What could be better than a sunny afternoon sitting at a café with friends, preferably beside the water, eating freshly shucked oysters on the half shell? A side trio of horseradish, seafood sauce and mignonette sauce to choose from, a glass of wine and good conversation. But I bet you had no idea that oysters are as old as dinosaurs?
Oysters, and other bivalves, have existed for over 500 million years – but they were much larger way back then. Fossilized oysters show that over the years there has been little change to their appearance other than the size. They were once over 3 feet wide and weighed over 20 pounds! Luckily, today, you can fit a dozen oysters on a plate, artfully arranged. And make it a nice one – like our marbled plates and platters from Australia – it will really elevate the whole experience. With oysters, it is ALL about the plating!
TREANA'S MIGNONETTE RECIPE
This only makes enough mignonette for a dozen oysters, so if you’re having a larger crowd, you can double and triple the recipe as needed. Also serve with a choice of lemon, horseradish, tabasco sauce or cocktail sauce, as desired.
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup unseasoned (clear) rice vinegar
1/2 cup finely minced shallots
1/8 tsp sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
12 oysters, freshly shucked (If you are shucking the oysters yourself, see our instructions below.)
Stir vinegar, shallot, and seasoning in a small bowl. Drizzle over oysters.
Make the mignonette at least 4 hours ahead of time, preferably a day or two, which allows for the flavours to blend, and the shallots to mellow.
THE PAIRINGS THAT WE LIKE
The type of wine that comes to mind around oysters is always going to be white. And indeed, a Pinot Gris is one of the wines that is splendid with oysters. But in today’s world, there are no rules. The real key is to avoid anything overly heavy. You want something that is high in acid and very dry. A little fruity. You want the acid for the same reason you use lemon juice on oysters and other marvels from the sea – it goes well with the flavours.
If you’re looking for an incredible Pino Grigio, look no further than Nichol Vineyard Pino Gris from the Okanagan Valley. Medium bodied, dry and with citrus and orchard fruit, carried with a grapefruit finish – you could not ask for a better pairing.
If your preferences run to red, don’t despair. You still want something fruit driven and light, like Kelowna’s Scorched Earth Vineyard’s award-winning offering, PASK the Pino Noir. This medium-bodied Pino has the aromas and flavours of cherry, plum, oak and a hint of vanilla. It is so popular that there is a two-bottle limit!
Iced vodka, however, may be the definitive choice, and of course, our favourite! Over ice or frozen, your call. We found the most incredible vodka, made right here in the Cowichan Valley – by Ampersand Distilling Co. – called Per Se Vodka. It’s made with 100% BC grown wheat and it wins awards. Enough said!
HOW TO SHUCK OYSTERS
Anyone with the right knife and glove can learn to shuck their own oysters. Pick a tool. An oyster knife is best – short and stubby. It’s not just oyster snobbery. There is a guard around the blade to protect your hand. If you must, you can use a screwdriver or a table knife. But really. You need a proper oyster knife if you’re going to get serious about this.
You need something on your hand to hold the sharp oyster shell. Ideally an oyster glove, which will give you the most flexibility but you can use a potholder or dish towel as well. Hold the oyster flat side up, rounded side down. This is so the cupped side can hold the juices when the lid comes off. And hold that oyster like you mean it.
Look for the hinge, where the oyster shell is joined. Insert the oyster knife near the hinge and twist. You should hear that ‘pop’ as the hinge comes loose but sometimes it takes a bit more work. Slide the knife between the shells and you should be able to remove the top lid.
OUR LOCAL GUIDE TO ENJOYING OYSTERS IN BC, CANADA
FLAVOURS OF BC'S OYSTERS
Kusshi oysters are sourced from Cortes Island and they are mild with a fruity finish. But don’t ignore the Sunseeker oysters from Desolation Sound - they are small, plump, and sweet and salty at the same time. Pacific oysters are abundant at Oyster Bay in Ladysmith on Vancouver Island and come with a mild brininess and a sweet taste. Head a little further south to Puget Sound, Washington for our favourite of all - Kumamotos!
SUSTAINABLE LOCAL SEAFOOD MARKET SOURCES (FOR HOME SHUCKING)
Ahhh, Mitch's catch. Line-caught feel-good food. Sustainable, simple, easy, local, direct. And the best Pacific Albacore Tuna in town. This market believes that people should be connected to where their food comes from. And so do we. And their “Poke Kit” contains everything you need to make 2-4 pokes. Or try the sushi kit or the smoke kit. You need to visit their website for all your options.
Skipper Otto is ocean to table ordering. Their community supported fishery helps keep independent small-scale fishing alive in B.C. and gives you a direct line to where your food is coming from. Wild, sustainable seafood. With their seasonal plan, you’ll be eating with the ecosystem! Aside from BC products as salmon and halibut, you’ll find seafood selections like lingcod and pink scallops. Check out their membership plans and pick your own level of participation. Makes a great gift!
BEST RESTAURANT FOR EATING SUSTAINABLY CAUGHT OYSTERS
As Vancouver’s premier seafood restaurant, Blue Water Cafe’s international reputation for excellence is founded on serving only the freshest and most sustainable wild coastal species. All seafood is delivered to their kitchen daily and only the absolute freshest, exceptional quality fish and shellfish are selected. Most of them are line caught, trap caught or sustainably farmed in our region.
SET THE TABLE FOR YOUR OYSTER FEAST
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