Peconic Bay Oysters

Peconic Bay OystersPeconic Bay Peconic Bay Oysters

Oysters

Peconic Bay refers to two bays that lie between Long Island's North Fork and South Fork. Great Peconic Bay - the farthest inland and westernmost bay is shallow, less than 30 feet deep. Little Peconic Bay, at the east end runs deeper - up to 80 feet. Both bays are a tidal estuary system fed by the Peconic river on the west end and several brackish tidal estuary creeks between the Peconic river and Block Sound. During colonial times the plankton rich Peconic bay Oystersbrackish water of the Peconics supported a rich shellfish population. Pollution, over harvesting and reoccuring brown tide algae blooms did in the Peconic shell fishery by the mid-80's. Clean Water Act water quality gains encouraged the reseeding of shellfish in 2005 and 2006 and commercial leasing of the bottom to fishermen began the revival of the shell fishery.

The Peconic Bay Oysters grow by the rack and bag method in the brackish plankton rich waters of Great Peconic Bay. The 3 to 4 inch tear shaped caps look like ancient dark algae crusted gray slate skipping stones pried from a northern lake bottom. Little mussels grasp the shells, fibers of algae cling here and there and black mud and green black plant life fills every depression. Despite looking like rocks, the caps are brittle. The cups have medium depth and look like the caps. Turn them upside down and squint and they look like a lichen mountain range above the tree line scraped smooth by glaciers.

The oysters smell like an estuary - a little briny but not as much as a tidal pool, a little more vegetation, traces of animal, some fruit and some broth. The meat to shell ratio is medium high with a nice taste of liquor floating on top. The broth is minerally, well salted but not ocean salty and it finishes with a light mineral astringent note. The flesh is less salty than the liquor, tasting buttery and sweet with some vegetable, broth, and traces of fruit. I am drinking a Honjozo Koshino Yukiwariso Snow Grass Sake with the oysters and the sake goes with anything salty. It also helps define some bacon, meat broth and vegetable in the oyster and the sake and the oyster together bring out their shared melon flavors. The Sake is excellent and the oysters make it more so. The flavor of the Peconic bay Oysters is outstanding - somewhere in the high "A" range but the texture is a little gristly and membranous and it gets a "D" for texture. Overall I give it a 70 but I would eat them again just for their flavor.

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