A quick guide to matching beverages to a Rock Oyster
24 August, 2023
08 August, 2023
World Oyster Day - August 5, 2023
Oyster lovers around the world, get ready to celebrate World Oyster Day this Saturday, August 5! This annual occasion presents the perfect opportunity to indulge in one of the ocean's finest delicacies: the Rock Oyster. With its exquisite taste and unique characteristics, the Rock Oyster offers a culinary experience like no other.
THE ROCK OYSTER: A UNIQUE SPECIES
Native to the pristine waters of Australia, the Rock Oyster is one of the world’s great eating oysters with a lasting deep, rich and sweet flavour that is unlike any other oyster on the planet.
As with all oysters, Rock Oysters are influenced by where they grow. The varying environments of our estuaries and inlets of New South Wales play a major role both externally (its shell shape and colour) and to the flesh (flavour, colour and texture). And yet, unlike many oysters around the world we have always referred colloquially to it as the ‘Sydney Rock Oyster’ (even though none are produced in Sydney) rather than the estuary it comes from.
Nor has there been a widespread understanding of the impact of seasonality and the husbandry techniques that are employed to suit our environment here in Australia.
And yet, oysters all around the world have long-been sold under their regional name, a credit to the intricacies of flavour provided by their merroir, rather than simply their species.
As such, the Sydney Rock is a strange name for an oyster that grows naturally along some 1200km of coastline from Moreton Bay in south-east Queensland to Mallacoota on the border of Victoria and New South Wales – with each estuary adding its own character to the oyster. Thus it makes much more sense to call them Rock Oysters - and name them by the estuary in which they grow.
Rock Oysters are hermaphroditic bivalves that spawn when water temperatures and salinity fluctuate drastically. Depending on the oyster’s environment or stage of life, the oyster can be male or female, but never both at the same time. Most Rock Oysters start life as males. Their first spawning will be as a male, and then many of them will change to a female for the subsequent spawning years. Adult females can release as many as 5 to 8 million eggs at one time.
Endemic to our shores, the Rock Oyster grows intertidally in the estuaries, lakes, sheltered mangroves and inlets all along the NSW stretch of the east coast of Australia. These environments provide a wide variety of organic matter on which to feed as well as protection from storms.
The Rock Oyster is a truly unique shellfish, an indigenous ingredient of which we should be very proud.
WAYS TO CELEBRATE: SERVING ROCK OYSTERS
Oyster connoisseurs claim that cooking an oyster is blasphemy, preferring to eat them raw on the half-shell in their own liquor with nothing to overpower the delicate flavour. With Appellation Oysters, Rock Oysters of the highest quality, we tend to agree.
The staunchest defenders of raw oysters might even sneer at any accompaniment, but many enjoy flavours such as lemon and vinegar, which can dampen the saltiness and enhance the sweetness. Grated horseradish or mignonette dressing are also common accompaniments.
Any cooking must be sympathetic to this fragile protein. As oysters are 95% gonad or reproductive organ, the protein is highly fragile meaning it is readily overcooked, resulting in tough and flavourless meat. Steaming or frying with a coating such as a crumb or a batter to protect the meat; quick stir frying or grilled or roasted whole in the shell (lid on) are methods that tend to provide the best culinary outcomes.
ENJOY YOUR ROCKS NATURAL
Celebrate World Oyster Day by savouring Rock Oysters in their purest form – freshly shucked in their own liquor matched with a glass of Chablis. Allow the natural flavours of the oyster to take centre stage, delighting your taste buds with the merroir of the oyster.
TOP WITH CAVIAR
For added luxury, top your Rocks with your favourite caviar.
CLASSIC AUSSIE SURF & TURF STYLE
For added indulgence in a truly Australian style, pair beef with your bivalves. A high quality beef like Stone Axe Wagyu will perfectly complement the quality of Appellation Oysters.
USE NATIVE AUSTRALIAN FLAVOURS IN YOUR TOPPINGS
If you prefer some added flavour, consider experimenting with native Australian ingredients to create exciting oyster toppings:
Finger Lime Salsa: Combine diced finger limes, ripe tomatoes, red onions, and a hint of chili to create a vibrant and zesty salsa. This topping enhances the Rock Oysters with a burst of citrusy and tangy notes.
Lemon Myrtle Butter: Mix softened butter with a sprinkle of lemon myrtle, a native Australian spice with a lemony fragrance. This buttery goodness adds a delightful aromatic twist to your oysters.
Bush Tomato Relish: Prepare a relish using bush tomatoes, red wine vinegar, and a touch of brown sugar. The sweet and tangy flavours of this relish beautifully complement the oysters' natural taste.
ABOVE: Appellation Oysters with Finger Lime Mignonette by chef Simon Evans at Bangalay Dining.
As World Oyster Day approaches, there's no better way to celebrate than by eating Rock Oysters from your favourite estuary served just how you like them. Whether you prefer them raw or topped with native ingredients, gather your loved ones and experience the joy of celebrating this special day in style.
Happy World Oyster Day!