Southern Traditions: South Carolina Oysters

By:Staff Writer


“To describe our growing up in the low country of South Carolina, I would have to take you to the marsh on a spring day, flush the great blue heron from its silent occupation, scatter marsh hens as we sink to our knees in mud, open you an oyster with a pocketknife and feed it to you from the shell and say, ‘There. That taste. That’s the taste of my childhood.’” - Pat Conroy,“Prince of Tides”

The South Carolina Oyster

In South Carolina’s Lowcountry, oysters are a way of life. From the Native Americans who once inhabited the Sea Islands to modern day, oysters have remained at the heart of Southern cuisine and culture. During oyster season, which runs from September through April, these tasty mollusks are abundant at almost every local restaurant, and of course at the state’s beloved oyster roasts.

Beneath a fine layer of pluff mud found in the rivers and marshes of South Carolina you will find Crassostrea virginica, aka the Eastern Oyster. These oysters are meaty, briny and crisp, more so than those found in the gulf and other regions, which gives them a very distinctive taste: sweet, salty and earthy. Rich in both flavor and history, South Carolina oysters are as unique as they are delicious.

How It’s Done

oyster shucking
Step one

To shuck an oyster, gently slide the blade of your knife into the hinge on the shell where the two halves of the oyster meet. Twist the knife to pop the shell apart and separate the halves.

Step two

Using the blade of the knife again, cut the oyster from its shell by sliding the blade through the hollow at the top of the shell.

shucking oyster
Step three

Then, slide the knife beneath the oyster to disconnect it completely from the shell.

Step four

Finally, top the oyster with hot sauce, lemon juice or another favorite condiment like cocktail sauce.

Ways to Serve Oysters

Enjoy oysters raw, steamed or lightly battered and fried. Or try the classic Oysters Rockefeller dish, which is an oyster on the half shell topped with breadcrumbs, butter, onion, spinach and cheese, then baked.

Whether it’s your first time trying this Southern delicacy or you’re already an oyster connoisseur, your next oyster dish awaits you in South Carolina.

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