Pacific oyster farming is an environmentally sustainable activity over which the government together with the shellfish farmers and other industry members have developed a set of mandatory operational standards. Coastal communities, First Nations, government and the shellfish industry work together to strike a balance between the competing resource users and determine the most appropriate sites for oyster aquaculture. Pacific oysters are grown in the inter-tidal zone where they eat microscopic algae and phytoplankton by filtering up to 20 gallons of seawater through their gills each day. Often harvested right off the beach, these oysters are collected and brought straight to the plant for same-day processing.
Of the Pacific oysters, we specialize in the premium varieties cultured and harvested along the B.C. coast. Considered a delicacy among oyster enthusiasts, the Kusshi (which means "ultimate" in Japanese) is a small deep cup beige and white oyster that is firm and crisp in texture with an intensely sweet and rich flavour and a lingering finish. Raised in the glacial-fed waters of Baynes Sound (the sheltered narrow strait separating Vancouver Island and Denman Island), the Sound Select is larger than the Kusshi with the same fresh flesh but with a more pronounced salty sea taste. The Golden Mantle (so named because of the beautiful colour of its shell) is cultivated in the pristine waters of Desolation Sound in suspended mesh trays that protect the oyster and contribute to a tender meat and a flavour profile that tends to be clean, sweet and light. Grown off of the northern Gulf Islands, the Royal Miyagi has a slightly ruffled white-and-purple shell, a smooth, creamy texture, and a melon-like flavour with a hint of cream. Like the Kusshi, the Mitaki is a petite oyster with a dark brown or black shell with two tan stripes and a flavour described as a metallic steeliness that shines over the mildly salty body. In general, west coast oysters will have less salt in their finish than east coast oysters (because the Pacific Ocean has a lower salinity content than the Atlantic) which provides the Pacific oysters with sweeter and more pronounced flavours.
Chef Rick Moonen of Las Vegas' RM Seafood at the Mandalay Bay Hotel on Pacific oysters: How to Buy The environment – which includes the kind of oyster bed (mud, sand, or rock), the water temperature, the salinity of the water, and the available food – an oyster grows up in determines its flavour. In general, oysters from colder water have a brighter taste and are great on the half shell. Warm-water oysters are blander (there's often less salt in those waters) and are the better cooking oyster. Oysters should always be tightly closed. They should feel heavy for their size and shouldn't sound hollow. Knock them together gently to check. Avoid oysters that look as if they have pinholes in the shells; they're prone to crumbling when you open them. Oysters need to breathe, so make sure the bag they're packed in remains open until you get them home. Transfer them to a tray, store cup side down, and refrigerate right away.
How to Prepare The thing about oyster shooters is that you keep making them as long as the oysters, vodka, and cocktail sauce hold out. Put a little cocktail sauce in the bottom of a shot glass. Nestle one oyster on top, add a little more cocktail sauce, and top it with a shot of Tabasco and one oz of iced vodka. Throw back the oyster as though it were a shot. Not only will you amaze your friends and have fun at parties, but these bivalves will provide a great source of zinc, iron, and vitamin A.