Friday, April 16, 2010

Chef Jules Talks About Bluff Oysters


Hello Friends;
Bluff Oysters are one of Chef Jules favourites and one of natures little gems. Bluff Oysters latin name is Tiostrea Chilensis, is a bivalve mollusc and is of the Ostreidae family. Other names include; Mud Oyster, Dredge Oyster, Foveaux Strait Oyster, Flat Oyster and Deep Water Oyster. Common to Chile and New Zealand, Bluff Oysters have a firm flesh, creamy luscious texture, medium oil content, with a delicate crisp taste of the sea, and for that reason, is one that I recommend if one is a little unsure of oysters or never tried them before. I have prepared and sampled Bluff Oysters many different ways, but the best way is "au naturale", i.e, freshly shucked, lemon wedge and accompanied by a glass of Champagne, Chablis or Sauvignon Blanc, although my preference is still a creamy, buttery Australian Chardonnay.
Oystering began at Stewart Island in the 1860's and shifted to the cooler, deep waters of Bluff where they are dredged by the oyster fleet at a depth of approximately 60 metres. It is not uncommon for each vessel to have 60 sacks of Bluff Oysters on return to port, each sack containing 800 oysters, each oyster having a minimum length of 57mm. Sometimes helicopters are used to expedite the delivery process, so that seafood markets and up-market Auckland restaurants can have them on the dining table, as soon as the season begins, (March to June). With past problems concerning the oyster parasite, Bonamia Exitosa, resulting in disruptions of supply from 1985-93 and again in 2000-05, the authorities and fishermen recognise the importance of seasonal quotas and at time of writing is 7.5 million oysters. Apparently  Bonamia is still present in certain areas, but stocks are growing well and it is hoped the cooler water temperatures will discourage the disease from spreading further. I had some last night and they were exquisite, and worth every penny! Retail prices for 1 dozen are around, NZ $22  in the South Island and up to $30 in the North Island. If you are sampling them in an Auckland restaurant expect to pay $25 for half a dozen and $50 for 1 dozen.
The anticipation and excitement at the start of each season is further encouraged by the  Bluff Oyster and Food Festival. Started in 1991, it is truly a celebration of this magnificient mollusc and other food from the region, wine stalls and entertainment. Tickets are purchased 9 months in advance for this popular event.
On the subject of seafood I have a new  Hapuka Recipe  pictured below, on the Dive Planet website, so check it out!
Ciao for now

2 comments:

  1. I adore oysters - thanks for this informative post.

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  2. wow. this was such a wonderful information piece. I will most defintley be cooking with oysters so darn soon. What a lovely website.

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