By Rebecca Gardon
If you’re a regular customer of ours and a fan of oysters, you’ve likely tried our local Baja Nautilus oysters from Baja California. Full bodied and clean tasting with a semi-firm texture, these delicious bivalves are the result of a purity and richness of water that is found at only a few other locations on the West Coast. So when we went looking for additional varieties to add to our market case, we knew they had to be the same high quality. Enter Mac’s Oysters Ltd., a fourth-generation family shellfish farm that produces farmed Pacific oysters (Crassostreas gigas) and clams for importers, wholesalers and distributors worldwide.
Mac’s is the original shellfish processor in Fanny Bay, an area along Canada’s west coast renowned for producing world-class oysters. The farm processes about 25 percent of all of British Columbia’s cultivated oysters, grown through a variety of methods. Mac’s beach oysters are grown on the beach throughout their life cycle; deep water oysters in trays; and beach hardened oysters also in trays but then conditioned on the beach. Because each method produces variations in terms of shape, texture and taste, Mac’s has several brand name oysters which are among the world’s best. Look for the following three to appear periodically in our fish market as well as our online store.
Mac’s Signature Beach Oysters
Grown in Fanny Bay, Mac’s Signature Beach Oysters are a favorite at most oyster bars. Shaped by ideal tidal patterns and productive shallow waters, these oysters feature a characteristic rugged shell. Inside you will always find reliable, full meat with a smooth flavor. Because these oysters are grown at various locations in Fanny Bay and further up the coast, their flavor profile varies slightly from salty to mild.
Pearl Bay Oysters
Naturally farmed in the deep cold waters off Sykes Island in Jervis Inlet just north of Vancouver, Pearl Bay Oysters are grown in trays suspended off the ocean floor on rafts or long-lines. First cultivated in the mid-1990s, these oysters have a distinct deep cup and a delicate multi-colored shell that gleams with purple and hues of gold and ivory. Their delicate meat provides a crisp brininess that is followed by a clean, slightly sweet melon or cucumber finish. It is this balance that also makes them an ideal entry-level oyster for consumers. Bonus: Pearl Bays have a weaker abductor muscle which makes for easier shucking!
Phantom Creek Oysters
Phantom Creek Oysters spend most of their lives growing plump in trays suspended from rafts in deep water. Three to six months prior to harvest, the oysters are placed on the beach where exposure to air, waves and predators harden the shell. The result is an oyster with a deep cup characteristic of deep water cultivation and the tough shell and shelf life of a beach oyster. Meat is petite with a mild flavor and clean finish.
Need a lesson in oyster shucking?