Slimy. Slurpy. Scary.
That was my first oyster experience.
As someone who claims to love seafood, I have never tried raw oysters. Whenever I think about oysters, I always imagine the episode when Mr. Bean eats really rotten oysters and then his eye balls go all huge.
(Feel free to watch here Mr. Bean stuffing his face at a buffet to prove he can eat more than the guy beside him. Rowan Atkinson at his finest.)
Thankfully, Wanda, an employee from Rodney’s Oyster House, has helped me overcome that fear and assure that I will not get rotten oyster nightmares like Mr. Bean.
What’s the story behind Rodney’s?
“Back in the late 1970s my father asked me to deliver a box or two of oysters. I took it a bit overboard.” - Rodney
Rodney Clark, the “Oysterman,” was born and raised in PEI. Since 1987, Rodney’s Oyster House has been alive and well serving customers the freshest variety of seafood.
If you’re wondering which day you should visit Rodney’s, try a Monday, Wednesday, Thursday or Friday, which is when they get their seafood from farmers.
Let’s get down to business. (Insert Mulan soundtrack).
Q: I know nothing about oysters. How do you shuck an oyster?!
A: “Every oyster has a hinge, cup side, and flat side. Place the oyster cup side down and hold with a bit or pressure.
With the hinge end away from you, insert the shucking knife an inch from the hinge and twist at the wrist. No elbow action. Once you’ve found the sweet spot, ease the blade further inside the oyster.
When inside, follow the path of the meat. Slice the muscle, and clean off any dirt. Turn it around [so the hinge end is facing you], push the bottom, and scrape it away so the oyster is nice and loose. You want it to look like you just picked it up” says Wanda.
Q: How do you know you have a good oyster?
A: There are a couple of things to look for. My new oyster expert friend informs me that it should be opaque. If you can see the bottom, it’s watery and probably not the freshest. It should also smell like the ocean.
The texture changes depending where it’s coming from. An Atlantic or east coast oyster is firmer, while a west coast oyster is softer and creamier since it grows in warmer water.
You see that picture? Three empty oysters that I finished all by myself. For $5, not bad at all. This was a Merigomish Oyster, from the Merigomish harbour in Nova Scotia.
My first initial thought was that it was chewier than I imagined, but very clean tasting. I tried the first oyster with lemon, the next with horseradish, and the last with a couple drops of tabasco. Personally, I think simple is better so I would opt for the lemon.
If I’ve persuaded you at all (or deterred you if you watched the Mr. Bean episode), give Rodney’s Oyster House a try. Located at King and Spadina, you can trust that you will be eating top of the line oysters with servers who actually know what they are talking about.
Another big reason why I would go here is that they pride themselves in having a good connection with oyster farmers. Every couple of years, Rodney goes on a trip to visit his farmers from all across the world (including Ireland) to check up on their operations and see what they’re growing. That’s accountability if you ask me.
Thank you Wanda for giving me a 5 minute crash course in oysters. For the rest of you, time to get out of your shell and give Rodney’s a try!