By Rebecca Gardon
“This is the best oyster discovery I’ve had in the last 10 years. I’m an East Coast guy and I love my Malpeques. That’s why it almost pains me to say how incredible this new oyster is from the west coast of Baja!”– Chris Nelson, Chef Advocate; previously Food & Beverage Manager Carmel Country Club, and Operating Partner, The Oceanaire Seafood Room
That’s what one of our customers said recently about our new Nautilus oysters (Crassostrea gigas). Native to Japan, this Pacific species of oyster is also known by its common names Japanese oyster, Miagi oyster, immigrant oyster, and giant Pacific oyster. You will currently find these oysters for sale at our San Diego fish market. They are also available for seafood wholesale.
The Nautilus are farmed by Ostricola Nautilus oyster farm, a third-generation family-owned enterprise founded in 1976 and one of the first to export C. gigas to the U.S. market. Ostricola Nautilus is located in San Quintín, a coastal town on the west coast of Baja California that is well known for its seafood farming. The farm itself is located at the Bahia San Quintin lagoon complex where proximity to intertidal water, and the variety of micro algae in it, gives the Nautilus oysters their own special flavor.
We find the Nautilus to be a clean tasting, full-bodied oyster (2.5″- 3.5”) with semi-firm texture. A harder shell results in fewer flakes, while a deep cup houses a supple liquor and ocean-fresh brininess that lingers through a sea grass finish. Some have described the Nautilus as having all the great attributes of a Kusshi or Kumomoto, only twice as large. This oyster is perfect for a half shell presentation, whether chilled, grilled or broiled. We particularly like to enjoy Nautilus oysters Baja-style with a squeeze of lime and dash of hot sauce.
Oysters coming from San Quintín require a purity and richness of water that is found at only a few other locations on the West Coast, most notably in British Columbia and Washington State. And farming is almost totally passive and harmless to the environment, since the oysters feed only on plankton brought in by the tides and they require no supplemental food, antibiotics, fertilizers, or chemical additives. We’re thrilled to be carrying Nautilus oysters and hope they are one of many more oysters out of Baja to come!