Have you ever wondered who first thought that eating oysters might be a good idea? Who were the first people to try them? When did Americans catch the oyster craze? There is evidence that shows oysters were eaten as far back as 10,000 years ago by Australians. About 2,000 years ago, they were being cultivated in Japan, and the ancient Romans were oyster farmers as early as the 1st century BC.
All About Oysters
There’s nothing quite like heading over to happy hour with friends and indulging in raw oysters for the rest of the afternoon. The plate arrives with freshly shucked oysters, accompanied by lemon slices and sauces like cocktail, mignonette, and horseradish.
No happy hour with seafood
of any kind would be complete without a cocktail or two to wash down the savory selections. Sounds perfect, right? As popular as oysters may seem now, they were actually eaten much more frequently in the past
Oysters in the Past
The average person eats fewer oysters now than they would have a few centuries ago. In fact, oysters used to be a main food staple for civilizations like Native Americans, Romans, and even 1800s New Yorkers!
There are some different types of seafood that are officially known as bivalves because their shells have two parts, called valves. Bivalves include:
Bivalves haven’t evolved much since the days of the dinosaurs; however, fossils have proven that some ancient oysters were up to 3 feet long and weighed over 20 pounds! Moving forward in time a bit, the Greeks considered oysters to be a valuable delicacy from the 13th- to 9th-century BCDE. Oysters even appear in mythology, as the Greek goddess Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty, is said to have been born from an oyster. This is where the idea of oysters being an aphrodisiac comes from.
The Golden Age of Oysters
For thousands of years, oysters were considered to be food for the wealthy. However, during the 18th and 19th centuries, a surge in oyster harvesting made it much more affordable for the working class populations in Europe and the US to afford them as well. In fact, they became cheaper than fish, poultry, and meat.
By 1885, the price of an oyster was $0.03, and by 1889, it had dropped to a penny apiece! This is equivalent to $0.25 today. Since the supply of oysters skyrocketed, they became very cheap, bringing them to the dining tables of every class.
Oyster saloons (also called oyster houses) popped up in major cities throughout the US. These were restaurants that specialized in serving oysters where anyone could order a cheap oyster meal. These saloons gradually gave way to what we know today as oyster bars.
So Where are the Cheap Oysters At?
As you might have guessed, the overharvesting of oysters eventually created a problem in maintaining the supply needed to satisfy the demand. Major oyster markets shut down because of overharvesting. Then, during the 1970s, several diseases afflicted oysters throughout the oceans, which almost brought several oyster species to extinction. In order to encourage the growth of oyster populations, non-native species of oysters were introduced to oyster beds.
Once again, oysters became a relatively expensive food item and quickly vanished from the tables of all but the most affluent. Today, they’re available, and although they are not quite as cheap as they used to be, they are more affordable than they were a few decades ago.
Haven’t Tried Oysters Yet? Don’t Wait!
There are many people in the world who can work miracles when cooking oysters. While eating them raw on the half shell is easy and delicious, there are some oyster appetizers that are heavenly, too. Oysters are incredibly versatile and are perfect for a quick snack before the big game, an elegant meal on a dinner date, and anything in between. The briny, buttery flavor and one-of-a-kind texture are two qualities that people love. Eat them raw, smoked, baked, wrapped in bacon, or deep-fried. If you’ve never tried oysters, you should know that they have a nice umami flavor, but they aren’t overly fishy. In fact, many people who aren’t crazy about seafood do actually enjoy eating oysters for that reason.
Our Favorite Oyster Appetizers Ever
We have dozens of oyster appetizers that we love, so it wasn’t easy to choose a select handful of them. Without further ado, here are some of our favorites.
Raw Oysters on the Half Shell with Cucumber Mignonette
You can never go wrong with good oysters on the half-shell with a mignonette recipe. This one
is a twist on the simple raw recipe that features a sauce with ginger, cucumbers, fresh pepper, a bit of sugar, shallots, and rice wine vinegar. For people who want a more traditional dish, serve it alongside cocktail sauce, too. The oysters are raw and on their shells, and the mignonette is earthier and not as sweet as typical serving sauces, such as strawberry mignonette.
Oysters Moscow Shooters
In this oyster Moscow shooter
recipe, these amazing ice-cold oysters are topped with a mixture containing a drop of lemon juice, sparkling wine, cool sour cream, and black caviar. It’s a mouth-watering half-shell recipe, and you can top the oysters with fresh chives as an optional garnish.
Deep-Fried Oysters with Remoulade
Remoulade is a zesty, creamy sauce for dipping that often delivers a lovely little kick of heat from the Tabasco sauce. Oysters that are deep-fried
in a seasoned crispy cornmeal crust are something that almost all seafood lovers can get behind. A lot of people eat them without any kind of garnish or dressing, but for added zip, the remoulade is the top choice.
Cucumber Smoked Oyster Bites
Oyster bites sit on cucumber slices garnished with raw, pickled ginger carrots in this recipe for smoked oysters
. These are fantastic for a quick snack or appetizer because they only take 10 minutes. The cucumber doesn’t get soggy as crackers do, so you can make them up ahead of time. Also included in the recipe are lemon zest, fresh dill, and raw, pickled ginger carrots
Smoked Oyster Spread
Few things are as versatile or delicious as a smoked oyster spread is. Whether you eat it on a warm bagel, on fresh bread, with vegetables, or on top of crackers, a smoked oyster spread
is the leader of oyster appetizers.
There is no cooking and hardly any prep work required for our favorite oyster spread. If that’s not amazing enough, there are also just four ingredients used: Worcestershire sauce, cayenne pepper, cream cheese, and oysters.
Ceviche, or seafood salsa, as it’s known, is chunky, light, and loaded with flavor. If you’ve never had oyster ceviche
, now is the time! It only takes about 30 minutes to make and uses simple ingredients. These include green bell peppers, cilantro, salt, oysters, lime juice, oil, and red onions. Eat it alone or with crackers, popcorn, corn chips, or chifles (fried green plantains).
Order Your Oysters Online for Freshness
Lobsters Online is proud to offer locally grown Cape Cod oysters
to our customers throughout the US. You don’t have to live on the coast to get the freshest seafood
around! We offer overnight delivery on lobsters
, fish, oysters, shrimp, and more.