Available farmed, it is a marine and estuarine bivalve that lives intertidally to about 3 metres in sheltered bays and estuaries, especially in mangroves, tolerating a wide range of salinity. Australia’s first aquaculture species (farming began in the 1870s), it is now grown from south-eastern Queensland to southern NSW with a small pocket around Albany (WA), though it does occur along the southeast coast as far as Geelong (Victoria).
It is endemic to Australia. Its triangular-shaped shell is reasonably smooth and the meat has a pale edge. Previously known by the Latin name Saccostrea commercialis.
Commercial Oyster, Rock Oyster, Sydney Oyster, or Western Rock Oyster (if from WA).
Available year round, with peaks from September to March when they are considered to be in peak condition, although some people like the flintier, less salty flavour they have during winter.
Size and Weight
Average 40-60g whole weight and 6-8cm shell length, though they can exceed 25cm, they are generally smaller than other Oysters.
Native Oyster, distinguished by a flatter shell; Pacific Oyster, distinguished by a spikier shell and black edge on the meat.
Generally sold by the dozen or half-dozen, already shucked (opened). Look for lustrous, plump, moist flesh with a pleasant fresh sea smell. Unshucked Oysters should be closed or close when tapped or gently squeezed.
Shucked Oysters are best eaten on the day they’re purchased. They can be refrigerated for up to 2 days, but will taste best cooked if not eaten within 24 hours, and can be frozen for up to 3 months, below -18ºC, and used in soups or sauces.
Live molluscs should be consumed as soon as possible after purchase. Place in a container, cover with damp paper or cloth and keep in the warmest part of the refrigerator, usually the crisper (optimum 5ºC), ensuring that the covering remains damp.
Average yield is 20-40% from half shell. Has a rich, iodiney flavour, low - medium oiliness and moist, soft, creamy flesh when raw, turning browny-grey when cooked. If not consumed raw, they require very little cooking, either a quick dip in hot oil (usually with a coating) or a very gentle warm through; stop cooking as soon as the edges of the meat start to curl, as overcooked they will be tough and tasteless.
Steam, poach, deep-fry, pan-fry, stir-fry, bake, grill, barbecue, smoke, raw (sashimi), pickle.
Goes Well With
Bacon, breadcrumbs, cream, eggs, fresh herbs, garlic, ginger, green onions, lemon, lime, mirin, pepper, soy, Tabasco, tomato, wasabi, Worcestershire sauce.
Other Oysters; Blue Mussels can be substituted in some recipes.
Pacific Oysters are imported from New Zealand, chilled on the half-shell. Frozen, dried and smoked Oysters are also imported from many countries.
Bloody Mary Oyster Shooters
Oysters with Asian Dressing
Oysters with Shallot Vinaigrette
Oysters with Wasabi Dressing