Alex Eats: Fresh Oysters

Every week, Alex Guarnaschelli, host of Alex's Day Off, shares with readers what she's eating -- whether it's from the farmers' market or fresh off the boat, she'll have you craving everything from comfort food to seasonal produce.

I always think an oyster is completely submerged in water all of the time. On a recent boat ride through a little inlet outside Charleston, S.C. I learned that isn’t always true. As the boat ripped through the water, I noticed some unusual-looking plants adorning the shoreline. When the boat slowed, I got a closer look at these “plants.” They were actually oysters, one growing virtually on top of the other, like a 50-car pileup on the freeway. They were rooted in the sand, but due to the low tide, some were submerged and others not.

The skipper of our boat, Joe, a South Carolina native, saw me staring and pulled the boat over to the edge of a small beach area. “Put those boots on,” he instructed with a knowing grin. He handed me a pair of electric-green boots and I pulled them on slowly as he passed me an oyster knife. We crouched over the oysters and gently pulled a few loose. They were covered in grit, but they were still beautiful. I pried the top shell open and tasted the oyster (and its ridiculously fresh liquid) as if it were my first. It was so cold! Joe grinned, “Pretty good, eh?”

Better than you could ever imagine.

Alex's Oyster Tips:

1. When shucking and eating oysters, pour out the liquid that is in the shell when you first open them. The oysters will release more "liquor," as it's called, and will taste sweeter.

2. When picking an oyster, don't pay much attention to the rough exterior of an oyster. Check to make sure the oysters feel heavy in your hand, are moist to the touch and have completely closed shells.

3. If you're trying oysters for the first time, start with smaller ones to develop a taste for them and then graduate to larger varieties. Some of my favorites: Beau Soleil (Canada), Blue Points (Long Island) and Hama Hamas (Washington State).

*A note about the clam recipe: try tossing some oysters on the grill for a change of pace. Just make sure their shells are scrubbed clean before grilling.

More oyster recipes:

Photo: George Doyle, Thinkstock
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