Mar 02, 2009


I’m proud to announce the birth of a brand-new oyster. Shigoku, the latest development from Taylor Shellfish, is the most encouraging thing to happen in 2009 thus far. It’s a Willapa Bay oyster, made extra-special through Taylor’s genius. They grow the oysters in floating bags, like many a Pacific oyster, but these are attached to stationary lines and floats that rise and fall with the tides, the result being that the oysters get tumbled twice a day. This low-energy, low-maintenance technique (a variation on British Columbia’s more labor-intensive Kusshi) continuously chips off the oysters’ growing edge and forces them to “cup up,” getting scoop-shaped and pushing against the limits of their shell as they grow.

The result? A small, dense, cornucopia of an oyster. A light, clean taste of cucumber and salt, with a finish of water chestnut and Jerusalem artichoke. (Two days after I wrote these notes, I had dinner at Boston’s Rialto, where the sensational Jody Adams had paired oysters with a Jerusalem artichoke puree . . . . great minds.)

Shigoku, which means “ultimate” in Japanese, hasn’t hit the market yet, but they may hit your local oyster bar in the coming months if it is very, very lucky. You’ll also soon be able to order them directly from Taylor, in a handsome wooden box stamped with the Japanese character for “Shigoku.”


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