Have you ever been to a Chinese restaurant and asked if oysters are served alive or cooked? Many people have had this question asked to them while they were dining with friends and there is usually some confusion about the difference. Often the confusion comes from the misunderstanding about what constitutes” alive” and “cooked”. In a simple nutshell, when we say that something is cooked, we mean that it has lost all of its nutrients, especially if it has been stored for any length of time. The same is true of live oysters.
Some people believe that eating oysters means that they are actually being cooked. They know that because the water in which they grow has gone dry and the oyster needs to use up some of its body fat to manufacture the black stuff that decorates the inside of the shell. It therefore makes sense that the oyster will become soft and slimy. That is why they are often served alive. But this is where the confusion arises.
When Chinese restaurants began serving oysters that had been freshly shucked rather than sitting on a saltwater tank, many diners were confused. Many assumed that the oysters had been boiled or grilled and were not fresh. Oysters that are allowed to sit and cool to near room temperature do not necessarily feel pain or die when they are pulled from the water. They may just feel soft, slimy and slightly gelatinous. If you’ve eaten many oysters that have been lightly shucked, you know that the discomfort they caused is not unlike the one you get when you have a lump in your groin after you’ve had too much to eat at a buffet.
This problem is solved, though not entirely successfully, by American restaurants that market themselves as seafood or raw fish restaurants. These restaurants will often sell oysters that have been slightly cleaned as long as it has been specified on the label that the oyster was cleaned before being sold. If you eat an entire clamshell that has been cleaned as long as possible, you will experience little discomfort. Even if you eat just one oyster that has been lightly cleaned, you should still feel a little discomfort since the irritation is confined to a small area. If you eat the oyster that is slightly opened, there will still be some small amount of irritation but this will be confined to a small area.
It’s very hard to know whether the oyster you are eating is alive or not. The best way to tell is by observing how it behaves after it is cleaned. The first signs that you will notice that the oyster is live is when it produces white and black stuff all over its body. There are also times when the oyster produces yellow or green stuff.
Since the question “are oysters eaten alive?” has been asked many times, the solution has been provided many times. The solution is to open the oyster carefully. If you open the oyster perfectly, you will find it is white coloured and there are no visible signs of life. If you look inside the oyster shell, however, you will see that the oysters are already starting to die. Once the oyster shell is open, you will find it filled with black stuff similar to the stuff produced by dying sea creatures.
There are a number of other reasons why the oyster will produce this kind of stuff inside its shell. If the oyster has been kept in a closed container for a long time, the water may have contaminated the oysters and allowed them to die. There are a number of other reasons why a store might sell its oysters in this manner. In certain stores, they might be sold as store brands that are actually mignonettes, instead of the more familiar supermarket brands. So, how is it different from a supermarket mignonette?
The answer is that while store brand mignonettes are indeed eaten alive, they are not as nutritious. Freshwater mignonettes on the other hand, are harvested from the same waters that the oysters swim in, so they are fresh and still alive. Whether you eat them fresh or cooked, mignonette is an awesome dish that is great both as a gourmet meal and a great dessert.