Gulf oysters are renowned for two things: Being cheap and being large. Compare an Apalachicola oyster to a pricey Blue Point or Wellfleet, and you'll see why real oyster fans go for the Gulf. When I eat an oyster, I want some bite -- not just a wimpy little bivalve hiding in its shell.
Even so, I never saw a Gulf oyster quite as big as the one I ate at Marumi Sushi about a week ago.
The jumbo oyster was hauled out on a metal tin along with other fresh
fish for us to choose from. It was easily 8 inches long and four inches
tall, the size of a Nerf football. For $6.50, Marumi's chefs Teruhiko
Iwasaki and Tetsu Hayakawa prepared the oyster sashimi style, slicing
it into thick strips and presenting it in its ivory shell. To finish: A
fresh scallion, a dollop of spicy momiji-oroshi paste, and just a
drizzle of yuzu-enhanced ponzu sauce. The ponzu mixed with the oyster's
copius liquor, creating a flavor that bordered on intoxicating.
That's by far the biggest oyster I've ever eaten. But jumbo oysters can
actually be ordered in many different varieties -- not just from the
Gulf. For example, Glidden Point extra-large oysters run 5 to 8 inches
in length and can be ordered for $24 a dozen. Kumamoto oysters can grow fairly large as well, and some Coos Bay oysters from Oregon get just as big as their Gulf cousins.
But those you have to special order. Count us lucky we've got sizable Gulf oysters at home (well, provided they're not all oil-drenched by next year).