Why We’re Excited About Hawaii-grown Oysters from Kualoa Ranch
Love on the half shell.
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Kualoa Ranch’s Molii fishpond.
Photo: Elyse Butler Mallams
Myth: Only eat oysters in months with the letter “r”
This used to be the case before refrigeration, when summer heat could quickly spoil harvested oysters. But it’s also because oysters spawn in warmer weather, causing their meat to become watery. These days, however, many oyster farms grow triploid oysters, which are sterile. Sorry, oysters—so much for romance.
Where to find the best oysters
Kualoa Ranch: Oysters are currently available for pickup at Kualoa Ranch only. $15/dozen, kualoa.com/oysters-seafood to reserve
BLT Steak: Oahu’s only raw bar features three to four varieties of oysters, mostly from the West Coast. $34/dozen, 223 Saratoga Road, 683-7440
Oyster Taste Test
There are only five varieties of oysters cultivated in the U.S.: Easterns, Pacifics, Kumamotos, Olympias and European Flats. So almost all the flavor differences among oysters can be attributed to their environment. More than any other seafood, to taste an oyster is to taste the sea it grew in.
The Pacific oyster, which is what Kualoa Ranch grows, is one of the most common species. I tasted Kualoa oysters side by side with three other Pacific oysters, named after where they were grown: Stella Bay, Fanny Bay and Penn Cove.
Distinctly savory and kelpy. After the flavor punch of Kualoa’s, eating the famously mild Kumamoto was like drinking tap water.
Stella Bay Oysters
Sweet and meaty
Fanny Bay Oysters
Really sweet on the front, with a cucumber finish
Penn Cove Oysters
Beautifully fluted edges, light and salty