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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Hog Island Oysters (San Francisco)

We. Love. Oysters.

Fresh Oysters from Hog Island Oysters

fresh oysters from Hog Island Oysters

Steamed oysters. Deep fried oysters. Grilled oysters. Oyster Po-Boys...there are many ways to eat oysters. (Have you had the Hokkien-style Or Chien - Fried Oyster Omelette? So good!)

But I think my favorite way to eat oysters is to eat them raw. That combination of smooth, silky texture, sweet oyster meat, and briny oyster liquor is irresistible. There is nothing like it.

Still, we don't get to eat raw oysters that often. Yes, I know there are places around here in the South Bay that sell raw oysters. We've even tried the vendor at the Sunnyvale farmer's market. (Never again - Annie and I both got sick from a bad batch.) The place we prefer to get our fresh oysters from is Hog Island Oysters at the San Francisco Ferry Building.

September Has the Letter 'R'

On a recent trip up to San Francisco to have some Roli Roti Porchetta with Robyn (of the EatingAsia food blog), we made it a point to stop at the Hog Island Oyster stall at the Ferry Building farmer's market. Actually, our 6-year old, Daniel, made it a point to remind us to get some oysters. You see, Daniel has learned to love oysters as much as we do.

We had told Daniel that oysters wouldn't be available in months that don't have the letter 'R' (which is a myth, by the way - oysters are now available year-round thanks to commercial farming and refrigeration). Back in August, Daniel came to me and said, "Daddy, September has the letter 'R'. That means we can go to San Francisco!"

I knew exactly what he was getting at.

So, after gorging on Roli Roti's perfect roast pork (that's for another post!), we ambled down to the Hog Island Oyster stall to pick up some fresh oysters to bring back home with us.

Fresh Oysters at Hog Island Oysters

Fresh Oysters at Hog Island Oysters

We came away with a dozen Sweetwaters and a dozen Kumamotos. Before leaving, we made sure to get a lesson on how to shuck an oyster from the expert shucker himself:

How to Shuck an Oyster

We took the oysters home and put them on ice in the fridge until it was time for dinner. Annie and I practiced our shucking skills (we still need work!) until we had filled the plate with oysters on the half shell.

Fresh Oysters from Hog Island Oysters

Fresh Oysters from Hog Island Oysters

No need for any dressing on these oysters. Even the squirts of lemon juice weren't necessary. Just toss these bad boys back and enjoy the goodness.

Help Us Get More Oysters

I'm a Finalist in the Marx Foods Oyster Contest

We recently found out that we were chosen as one of 10 finalists in a prize giveaway of 4 dozen oysters from Puget Sound, courtesy of Marx Foods. Entrants were asked what they would do with 48 free oysters. Answers included "Throwing them back in the ocean" to "Fry them all up".

Knowing that these would be 4 different kinds of oysters, with different ways to showcase their unique flavors, I answered thusly:

The Pacific Oysters would get the grill treatment, then served with a soy-sesame oil-lemon dressing.

The Kumamotos would be eaten raw and undressed - as God intended.

The Virginicas would be eaten raw, but with a little bit of horseradish and green onion.

The Olympias I think I would use them in an omelette, like the O Chien dish from Malaysia.

Apparently, the folks at Marx Foods liked that I showed enough respect for their oysters not to treat them all the same.

If you think my idea is worth voting for, won't you go to the voting page and select Nate (#73) - Oysters Four Ways ? Annie and I thank you, and Daniel thanks you!

Aloha, Nate


Food For Tots said...

I luv Or Chien! Vote for u!

Anonymous said...

Nothing beats fresh raw oysters. I always have to throw on the tabasco and lemon juice on mines. +1 vote for you Nate.

Jenster said...

I voted for you! Good luck!

I love oysters and am the only one in my family who can stand them. That means more for me. The kids always want to share my salmon, squid, prawns, scallops, crab, etc., but no one disturbs me for my oysters.

One of my favorite ways of enjoying it is with a good, simple oyster-fry, with a side of freshly made hash brown potatoes and some steamed asparagus.

I also love to eat them raw but am too chicken to do so nowadays with all the contaminants in the water. Even in our Puget Sound area, we receive public warnings now and then about polluted test results. Sorry to be a Debbie Downer!

Anonymous said...

I love raw oysters too, but I wouldn't know what to do with 48 of them! Good luck.

Unknown said...

wow that's enough endorsement already, i have to try the omelette...otherwise we've had all the other variations you mentioned!

am going to vote right NOW!

Ciki said...

one word aphrodisiac! you've got mah vote;D

Anonymous said...

I really never started eating oysters until a few years ago when my MIL served them at a family function. I'm not a complete convert but I will still eat them now.
I almost bought them at our local farmers market in San Jose (maybe the same vendor) but my husband was concerned. After you experience I'm glad we didn't!

Bob said...

I highly recommend going out to Hog Island and seeing what it is all about. I have fond memories of bbq oysters and stir-fried baby clams w/ celery and sea water. It is a interesting thing to see.

Nate @ House of Annie said...

@food for tots - thank you!

@lando - thanks. You should try it with sriracha.

@jenster - you're lucky. The kids disturb us for oysters. ;-)

And what is this about polluted test results? Are Puget Sound oysters sound?

@marvin - share them with at least one other person.

@drstel - thanks!

Nate @ House of Annie said...

@cumi & ciki - thanks!

@mrs l - I just hope no one else got sick that day.

@Robert - I really want to go! One of these days...

Cakelaw said...

I am so with you - oysters au naturel are the best. Good luck with the competition!

Jenster said...

@jenster - you're lucky. The kids disturb us for oysters. ;-)

And what is this about polluted test results? Are Puget Sound oysters sound?


But ONLY since you asked, it seems that every few years we hear of pathogenic outbreaks in our local oyster.

I don't think it's a reason to completely swear off raw oysters. It seems that oysters harvested in summertime temperatures are riskier. However, since we only get about two months of summer here, all bets are off the rest of the year! :)

I'm still too chicken and will live vicariously through you instead ....

Manger La Ville said...

Hog Island has the best oysters...I love them and crave them incessantly. Their oyster bar is fantastic as well. I love raw oysters, but their baked ones are truly delicious as well.

Anonymous said...

What a bounty of beautiful oysters!
Your photography is stunning and Bourdain would love everything about his post.

Nate @ House of Annie said...

@cakelaw - certain oysters are best raw. And I love that Hog Island carries them :-P

@Jenster - thanks...well I guess it's a good thing we didn't win then. Good luck to that 8-year old boy!

@manger la ville - I'll have to try a plate of their baked oysters then. Do you know if they go on special during the happy hour?

@white on rice couple - oh really? I'd love to see a comment from him here!

Single Guy Ben said...

Love your photos of the oysters. And thanks for the reminder! I have to go get me some now!