Oysters can be a polarising dish, with some people unable to stomach the thought of ordering a platter of the shellfish.
Yet for those somewhere in the middle – those who are unaccustomed to eating them but intrigued by the delicacy and interested in learning more, we’ve created an introductory beginner’s guide to oysters.
After all, when so many people around the world jump at the chance to taste fresh oysters, it’s certainly something worth giving a try.
So here are the basics you need to know about eating and enjoying oysters, whether at home or in an oyster bar
How to eat oysters
While some oysters are cooked, you will typically find oysters served fresh, in one half of their shells, and on a bed of ice to keep them cool.
As well as removing one side of the shell (a process called ‘shucking’), the chef will typically loosen the oyster inside so it isn’t attached to the remaining piece of shell. This makes it easy to tip the shell up like a spoon to eat the oyster.
For beginners, the first question is whether to chew or not chew. This is totally up to you. You can slurp and swallow the first one or two to get an idea of the flavour profile, then if you like it, you can chew the oyster to release the full flavour. It typically only takes one or two bites, keeping in mind that an oyster is delicate and light rather than chewy.
Also, if you’re unsure about whether you’ll like oysters, you can always ask your server to point out the more mild varieties. Oysters are a product of the place where they are harvested, so can be mild or briny, or even sweet. Therefore, you can opt for something on the small and mild side to start with.
When you first taste an oyster, you can enjoy it without any condiments to get a feel for the flavour and texture without any accompaniments.
However, most of the time, people enjoy oysters with a range of condiments that help to complement the flavours and textures in every mouthful.
One of the most popular, classic oyster condiments is mignonette. This is a French recipe that typically only includes red wine vinegar and finely chopped shallots, and perhaps salt and pepper to taste. If you enjoy acidic foods and flavours, this is a great condiment to start with.
Another great choice is freshly grated horseradish, especially with a spritz of lemon or lime juice. This adds a spicy, flavourful kick with a dash of citrus for a bright flavour combination that awakens and freshens the senses.
In lieu of horseradish, others love a dab of their favourite hot sauce such as sriracha, either by itself or with mignonette or lime juice.
With oysters, there are endless possibilities for condiments. In an oyster bar, you might even find them served with finely chopped pear, bacon, jalapeno, or chimichurri sauce. Part of the fun of enjoying oysters is trying them with a variety of toppings and deciding your favourites.
Appellation Oysters at 6HEAD
There’s no greater way to explore oysters than with an Appellation Oyster at 6HEAD. These are oysters that have been hand selected for quality, resulting in a variety of the freshest, juiciest and tastiest oysters on your plate.
Our oysters are sourced from estuaries across the east coast of Australia, where we are assured of top quality growing and harvesting conditions to provide some of the best fresh oysters you’ll find in the country.
Start your meal with a half dozen oysters to share for a light and refreshing starter, or opt for a dozen oysters to truly indulge in this delicacy of the sea.
Wine pairings with fresh oysters
At 6HEAD, we take immense pride in our wine list. Each of the 250+ wines has been hand selected to provide guests with a variety of quality vinos to pair with meals for the ultimate dining experience.
And this wouldn’t be a complete guide to oysters without mentioning some of the best wines to savour with your dish. These typically include any white wines that are light-bodied, crisp, and dry. Or, you can also elevate the experience with a dry, light champagne or sparkling wine.
The goal is to match the brininess of the oysters to the acidity of the wine, although keep in mind that if you’re opting for an acidic condiment on your oysters such as mignonette, you won’t necessarily need a wine that’s as heavy on acidity.
With all of that in mind, there are a number of excellent white wines and bubbles on the 6HEAD menu to enjoy with your Appellation Oyster. Otherwise, your dedicated Sommelier can recommend the perfect pairing for your palate.
- Catalina Sounds ‘Sound of White’ Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough: Any Sauvignon Blanc is usually a safe pick for pairing with oysters, as it is naturally crisp, light, and acidic. And when it comes to great Sauvignon Blanc, there’s nothing like a New Zealand vino.
- Mouton Noir Muscadet, Loire Valley: The Muscadet is not a well-known wine, but it is a typically bone-dry white that’s light bodied and highly acidic. In other words, it’s perfect of oyster pairing.
- Lallier R.019 Brut: Pairing champagne with oysters is a must-try, and this French Brut is available at 6HEAD by the glass.
Discover the 6HEAD oyster appellation
Take a seat at 6HEAD overlooking the Sydney Harbour and enjoy a half dozen or a dozen fresh, chilled oysters from across the Australian coast.
Presented with a selection of condiments to bring out the best flavours, these oysters can help a beginner to learn about the joys of this seafood dish, or they can indulge an oyster-lover with premium shellfish fresh from Australia’s oceans.
Make your reservation today to enjoy our oyster selection.