How to Eat Oysters, According to Manger Chef Mike Willenbring

by | Aug 2019

Oysters on ice at Manger in Bayport.

Photo: Tate Carlson

The types, the toppings and the technique: here’s a primer on how to eat oysters.

This article originally appeared as part of the story At Home at Manger in the August/September 2019 issue.

“Oysters can be intimidating to people,” says Chef Mike Willenbring of Manger. “But they shouldn’t be. You can be under a bridge somewhere or in a Michelin-starred fine restaurant, eating oysters.” First timer? Never fear. Here’s what you need to know to eat an oyster like an old pro.

The types.
Manger stocks a handful of varieties—each with their own flavor notes—but always a mix of East coast and West coast oysters, and always Duxbury. East coast oyster shells are smoother and rounder, they’re saltier, and taste more strongly of minerals. West coast oyster shells are known for their jagged, scalloped edges, with brighter color variations. They’ll taste sweeter, too. Try a few of each to get the gist.

The toppings.
Yes, they’re delicious plain. But try a squeeze of fresh lemon. Mignonette—a sauce made with shallots, cracked pepper and vinegar—is popular at Manger. Cocktail sauce, horseradish, hot sauce, and wasabi can all bring out different layers of flavor.

The technique.
Run your tiny fork around the edge to make sure the oyster is detached from the half shell. Put down your fork, pick up the whole shebang, tilt and slurp it down. (It’ll go easier from the wide end). Chewing is optional, but if you do, don’t overdo it.

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