Did you know that oysters are bicoastal? There are five breeds of oyster that are split into two broad categories: East Coast vs. West Coast oysters. Like fine wine, oysters' flavor is impacted by the natural environment in which the oysters live. So, it makes sense that, given the inherent differences in the two coasts’ water, nutrients, and current, oysters from the respective coasts do not taste the same. But what is the difference between East Coast and West Coast oysters? How do you know which variety to select for the flavor profile you're seeking? If you're new to eating oysters, FultonFishMarket.com has your back. Read on to learn about how Atlantic oysters and Pacific oysters compare on taste, size, and nutrition. We've also included an "oyster 101" detailing what to expect when ordering and eating oysters, plus simple oyster sauce recipes to pair with either variety.

East Coast vs West Coast Oysters

 

East Coast vs. West Coast Oysters - Taste, Size & Nutrition
Oysters 101 - Delivery, Freshness, Storage & Eating
Oyster Sauce Recipes
Shop Atlantic and Pacific Oysters

East Coast vs. West Coast Oysters - Taste, Size & Nutrition

Oysters are sensitive to environmental influences because they filter water, absorbing not only the contents of the water but also subtle "hints" on other environmental factors. While all oysters have about the same texture (plump and springy), environmental differences manifest in the oysters' flavor, which range from briny to creamy to rusty to sweet to cucumber-y, depending on the type of oyster. Here are the key differences between East Coast vs. West Coast oysters:

Atlantic Oysters

There is just one species of Atlantic oyster: the Atlantic Oyster (aptly named), which makes up about 85 percent of oysters harvested in the US. Within the Atlantic Oyster species there are numerous types of oyster -- for example, French Kiss oysters and Madhouse oysters.

  • Taste: Briny and savory (not sweet)
  • Size/Shell: Shaped like a teardrop with ridges
  • Nutrition: For Atlantic oysters, three ounces of meat contains the following:
    • Calories: 70
    • Fat: 2 g (3% RDV)
    • Saturated fat: 0.5 g (3% RDV)
    • Trans fat: 0 g
    • Cholesterol: 30 mg (10% RDV)
    • Sodium: 140 mg (6% RDV)
    • Carbs: 6 g (2% RDV)
    • Protein: 6 g
    • Vitamin A: 2% RDV
    • Vitamin C: 8% RDV
    • Calcium: 4% RDV
    • Iron: 35% RDV
    • Selenium: 90% RDV

Pacific Oysters

There are three species of oysters categorized as Pacific oysters: Pacific Oysters (aptly named), Kumamoto Oysters, and Olympia Oysters. Within each species there are numerous types of oysters, which you will find in FultonFishMarket.com’s online market.

  • Pacific Oysters:
    • Taste: Sweet and buttery, with a fruity finish
    • Size/Shell: Fluted, jagged, and rough; largest shell of all Pacific oysters
  • Kumamoto Oysters:
    • Taste: Sweet and nutty
    • Size/Shell: Mid-sized bowl-shaped shell
  • Olympia Oysters:
    • Taste: Coppery-flavored
    • Size/Shell: Tiny, shallow shell
  • Nutrition: For all species of Pacific oyster, three ounces of meat contains the following:
    • Calories: 140
    • Fat: 4 g (6% Recommended Daily Value [RDV])
      • Saturated fat: 1 g (5% RDV)
      • Trans fat: 0 g
    • Cholesterol: 85 mg (28% RDV)
    • Sodium: 180 mg (8% RDV)
    • Carbs: 8 g (3% RDV)
    • Protein: 16 g
    • Vitamin A: 8% RDV
    • Vitamin C: 20% RDV
    • Calcium: 2% RDV
    • Iron: 45% RDV
    • Selenium: 190% RDV

Oysters 101 - Delivery, Freshness, Storage & Eating

The following tips apply to oysters from both Coasts, so don’t worry if you’re still debating on whether to select East Coast vs. West Coast oysters.

  • How do I know if an oyster has gone bad? When you order oysters at a restaurant, they should small fresh and salty like the ocean. The shell should be full of meat (ie. not a "skinny" oyster), full of translucent juice (a.k.a. the oyster's "liquor," which should not be cloudy), and the meat should be lean (ie. not bloated). If the oyster smells "off," is dry, has little and/or bloated meat, and/or has cloudy juice, send it back. If you are ordering fresh oysters for home delivery from FultonFishMarket.com, they should arrive alive, but inspect them to make sure. First, inspect the shell; it should be unbroken and glossy, and it should snap shut tightly (no gaps) when you tap it. If the shell is compromised, discard the oyster and call us for a refund. If the shells are healthy, inspect the meat, which should be plump (but not bloated), tan in color, glossy in finish, translucent (not cloudy), moist, and fresh-smelling. If the oyster is gray, brown, black, pink, cloudy, and/or pungent in smell, toss it and give us a call.

  • What type of flavor profile should I order? Oyster aficionados suggest that, if you're new to eating oysters, start out with milder, sweeter oysters to introduce the taste gradually. If you're feeling adventurous, try a brinier variety. And if you're unsure, order both!

  • What is the proper way to eat oysters? If you’re preparing oysters at home, first rinse them thoroughly and use a knife remove any “beard” (fibrous tissues emerging from the shell). Eat your first oyster without any toppings or sauces. Before you eat it, use your fork to make sure the meat is separated from the shell. Then slurp the oyster and its juice out of the shell. (Eating oysters might be one of the only times it's acceptable for adults to slurp their food!) Chew the oyster and savor the flavor and texture. Make your way through the remaining oysters, adding sauces and condiments as desired.

  • Can you eat oysters raw? Eating raw seafood is risky business, since even a healthy-looking oyster can be contaminated with bacteria. If you want to take the risk, play it as safe as you can by eating oysters only if they're still in their shells (not shucked), and healthy. If the oyster has already been shucked, cook it before eating.

  • Can you store oysters? To store raw, unshucked oysters, use an open, unsealed container or mesh bag covered with a damp cloth. Do not store the oysters in an airtight container or they will die from lack of oxygen. Refrigerate (don't freeze) the oysters in their own juice for up to two days. To store raw, shucked oysters, refrigerate or freeze them. They will keep for up to three months in the freezer; just thaw them in the fridge before cooking. To store cooked oysters, keep them in the refrigerator (not the freezer) and eat within three days. 

Oyster Sauce Recipes

East Coast vs. West Coast oysters? If you’d like to make a sauce for either type, here are some popular options that pair well with either Atlantic oysters or Pacific oysters.

Horseradish Sauce

  • Total prep time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 1.5 cups (plenty for several dozen oysters)
  • Equipment:
    • Small bowl
    • Fork
    • Plastic wrap
  • Ingredients:
    • 2 Tbsp fresh horseradish, grated
    • 1 cup ketchup
    • 1 dash hot sauce
    • 1 dash Worcestershire sauce
    • 1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • Steps:
    1. In the bowl, use the fork to combine all ingredients.
    2. You can eat horseradish sauce right away without marinating it. If you want to save it for later, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Mignonette Sauce

  • Total prep time: 15 minutes to prepare plus at least 4 hours to marinate
  • Yield: 1.5 cups (plenty for several dozen oysters)
  • Equipment:
    • Medium-sized bowl
    • Fork
    • Plastic wrap
  • Ingredients:
    • ½ cup minced shallots, finely minced
    • ¼ cup white vinegar
    • ⅛  tsp sugar
    • ⅛ tsp salt
    • 1 ¼ tsp fresh (not pre-ground) white peppercorns, finely ground
  • Steps:
    1. In the bowl, use the fork to combine the shallots, vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper.
    2. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least four hours (although preparing it several days ahead of time will maximize the flavor; you can store the marinade for up to a month in the fridge).
    3. Serve with fresh Pacific or Atlantic oysters and enjoy! 

Shop Atlantic and Pacific Oysters

FultonFishMarket.com provides fresh, sustainably-sourced Atlantic and Pacific oysters, with delivery right to your door. Peruse our online market to select the variety best suited to your needs. Enjoy!

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