With a couple of exceptions, these oysters I was served in Vancouver’s Chinatown this past summer were the largest I have ever see, let alone eaten. Even having them steamed was something of a novelty for me as when I manage to get fresh ones from time to time, I usually can’t bear to do anything with them but eat them raw.
Anyway, you get a pretty good idea of the scale of these things from the above picture. You may also be able to tell, if you look closely, that each pair of oysters is prepared in a slightly different way. Gain Wah, the restaurant where I was served these, lets you select from three different styles. I went with all three…
Black Bean Sauce – I love Chinese Salted Black Beans, and the sauces made from them, and I particularly like it with pork or chicken. With oysters, though, I wasn’t quite as keen on the combination. The oysters here were very nice and flavourful but the black bean sauce, which was very strong, rather cut the natural sweetness of the oyster flesh. Funnily enough, when I mentioned to my server that I preferred the other two sauces, she gave a little grimace and nodded. I guess she too did not find the pairing a very good one.
Garlic Sauce – This wasn’t bad by any means, quite tasty actually, but the garlic here was a commercial minced garlic from a jar and it had the slightly oily taste those products often have. I did like it, but I think this offering would have been better if just a few slices of fresh garlic cloves had been used.
Ginger and Scallion – This was probably my favorite. It is hard to go wrong steaming fish or shellfish with these two condiments and the final result was a delicious sweetness. The ginger was cut very thickly and could have been quite overpowering for some. Naturally though, it was easily possible to eat the oyster meat without eating each and every piece of ginger. I voted these the best. If, someday, I purchase fresh oysters and restrain myself from eating them all raw, I will be doing this recipe myself.