Tuesday, March 18, 2008

How to Enjoy Oysters

Ralph Brennan's New Orleans Seafood Cookbook offers 12 recipes for the oyster lover. From appetizers like Baked Oysters Ralph to a main course of Oysters and Fettuccine, aficionados of this mollusk can design an entire meal around it -- except dessert, of course. The cookbook not only has recipes using oysters but a thorough preparation guide as well for those preparing this fruit of the sea for the first time.

The Atlantic or Eastern Oyster can be found along the Atlantic Seacoast from Nova Scotia to the Caribbean and along the Gulf of Mexico's coastline and has long been harvested by coastal Louisiana's residents. Texas Parks and Wildlife states that this oyster is one of the most popular coastal mollusks on the market and is necessary to the health of coastal regions in cleaning the water and providing a habitat for other small species like crabs or fish.

Oysters are a great source of nutrition as part of a well-balanced meal. PCC Natural Markets reports that eastern oysters are rich in zinc and vitamin B12 and are an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids. According to the Office of Dietary Supplements dictionary, zinc is necessary to the proper function of the immune system and the sense of taste and smell while vitamin B-12 helps maintain the nerve and red blood cells.

Ralph Brennan's New Orleans Seafood Cookbook recommends buying your oysters from a reputable seafood market. When determining freshness, make sure that the oysters don't smell "fishy." They should have a fresh, astringent-like smell when shucked or raw. Store at 35 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit and use within a day or two of purchase.

SOURCE: "Eastern Oyster (Crassostrea Virginica)" 04/11/07
SOURCE: "Oysters" 2007
SOURCE: "Office of Dietary Supplements"
photo courtesy of Chris Seufert, used under this Creative Commons license

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