The Oysters Steamed Three Ways at Gain Wah in Vancouver’s Chinatown made for a delightful first course and easily earned a 5 out of 5 Rating.
The Gain Wah Restaurant in Vancouver’s Chinatown is a terrific place, and I have enjoyed many excellent dishes there on each visit. Their Steamed Oysters were, with but a few exceptions, the largest I have ever seen, much less eaten, and the restaurant offered them in three different styles. Not being able, or willing to confine myself to one type, I tried all three and enjoyed them very much. Read on for more detailed descriptions.
The choices available for the steamed Oysters at Gain Wah were: Steamed with Salted Black Beans, Steamed with Garlic, and, last, but not least, Steamed with Scallion and Ginger. As for the Oysters used in these dishes, they were obviously a West Coast variety, but I was unable to identify them any more specifically than that and my server was unable to provide any details. All I can say is that they tasted… well, Oyster-like, and they were clearly very fresh.
#1 Oysters Steamed with Salted Black Beans
I love Chinese Salted Black Beans, and the sauces made from them, and I particularly like their flavor 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 to be her favorite either.
#2 Oysters Steamed with Garlic
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.
#3 Oysters Steamed with Scallion and Ginger
This was probably my favourite. 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 palates. Naturally though, it was easily possible to eat the oyster meat without eating each and every piece of ginger, but I ate most of mine. Anyway, I voted these the best by a good margin. If, someday, I purchase fresh oysters and restrain myself from eating them all raw, I will be doing this recipe myself.