Saturday, March 01, 2008


Three dozen oysters
Originally uploaded by Kent Wang.

Gulf oysters, I am reliably informed are succulent morsels that barely require a squirt of lemon or a shot of tabasco to serve as the centerpiece of a manful exploration of foodie indulgence.

Unfortunately, they can harbor a microorganism that can make you ill, and if you have liver disease, diabetes or a compromised immune system, kill you dead as hell.

So, before proving you are a man by tossing your locks (and you oyster) in laughing disregard for danger - you might want to check to see if you are indeed likely to remain man enough.

There is nothing so sure to undermine your studly rep as to be hauled off puking to intensive care.

Now, the Lousiana seafood r industry they probably would not be urgently wishing you to know about this, had the industry not taken steps to make the incident of oyster-borne discomfort rather rarer than it once was. A lot rarer, in fact. And it seems clear from everything I have looked at - not just my sponsor here - that serious illness is not a worry at all for people who are not at risk.

Note they don't promise that you won't get a bad oyster and puke your guts out. But then, that's always been that little kicker, something we have mostly all mostly known. That small risk and the challenging nature is why it impresses the girls. Dying of it, though - not so well known. Certainly not so impressive. Hell oysters are the risky seafood for those of us who dared not try fugu.

But that risk can minimized greatly by careful preparation immediately after harvest.

There are three major ways of post processing oysters, two of which involve some degree of heat. Obviously if you truly wish to serve them raw, there's really only one way to maximize your odds of not losing a relative; buy IQF (Fresh-frozen) oysters. (But even then, the possibility that you may become ill exists.)

IQF - Freezing oysters to extend shelf life was first applied in 1989; and presently, there are several facilities using this technique with oysters. The process has also become popularized on a worldwide scale with Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States leading the pack. IQF processing of oysters is presently being applied by companies in California, Florida, Louisana and Texas. It has the biggest market share of the post-harvest processed raw oyster market. Many prefer the IQF oysters because of quality, taste, and convenience. The IQF “fresh frozen” technology keeps all of the flavor and appeal of non-processed oysters – the major selling point of the process. IQF oysters are typically sold with the top shell removed.
Or - as almost everyone advises - you could just cook them.

Yes, I know, I know - then they would not be raw oysters! I feel your pain, I do. But lest you feel unmanned - did you know that they are delicious when grilled?

They have a whole free cookbook there for you. But if you are still not quite sure... must I point out the obvious, that anything is better when it comes out of a charcoal smoker? And what, dare I ask, is more macho that fire, charcoal, smoke and meat engaging in the magic, mystical and arcane art that is smoking?

Let the gruntign commence.

And if it's good enough to make pork safe, it's good enough to make a safe, gob-smackingly delicious home-smoked oysters. Why, you'd have to smoke a turkey for it to be worthy of a stuffing made from such smoky nuggets of joy!

What a good idea!

And just incidentally, doing your own smoking is the only real way for most of us to get enough of either delicacy to amount to more than a cruel tease.

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