A friend of mine brought me back some huge oysters from Camanada Pass off of Grand Isle, Louisiana, last weekend. These five-and-a-half-inch monsters made quite a mouthful, but they were some of the sweetest oysters I ever put in my mouth. Of course, the winter oyster season is just about at its absolute peak right now – the oysters are so fat they are bulging out of their shells.
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Seafood experts like Jon Rowley in Seattle, the guy who put Copper River salmon on the map, contend that when it comes to oysters, bigger is generally better. Rowley says that C. virginicas (the species we grow in the Gulf) taste best fully mature and at least three-and-a-quarter inches in size.
I compared little two-and-a-half- and three-inch oysters from Camanada Pass to the giant-sized ones this weekend, and I have to say that bigger was better. The giant oysters had a more intense flavor – and there certainly was a lot more to love!
Many people are intimidated by big oysters, and shuckers usually think they are doing you a favor by sending out the littlest ones. Next time you go to an oyster bar (and this week would be an excellent time for it), ask the shucker for some big oysters and some little oysters. Compare the flavor side-by-side and let me know what you think.