Liuzhou Laowai

Random thoughts on life in Liuzhou, Guangxi, China

‘Orrible Oysters


There are few things I like better than half a dozen immaculately fresh oysters (生蚝) shucked in front of me and served raw with a Guinness or a glass of champagne (or both). Make that a dozen.

I never eat them raw in China. For a start, restaurants don’t serve them raw and would have a fit if  you insisted. I can buy them myself, but it’s not the same.

It seems that there is only one way to serve oysters (or pretty much every mollusc) round here, and that any other method is a violation of some ancient, inviolable statute from the Xia Dynasty.

They are always opened, smothered in chopped garlic, green onion and rice vermicelli then grilled. Sometimes with chilli. That’s it. There is no other way. There is no point ordering both oysters and mussels. They taste exactly the same. And taste very little of the meat. The additions totally blow away the subtlety of the prime ingredients.

But a bit of a scandal has emerged. It appears that what some places are selling isn’t fresh oyster at all. They are flogging much cheaper frozen oyster meat which is re-inserted into recycled oyster shells.

Guangxi Health Department has been quoted as saying that, after repeated freezing and thawing of oyster meat, the protein is damaged and is extremely perishable. The taste and smell of fresh oysters is very different, so some businesses will add some strong smelling seasonings to cover up the smell of the fakes. Also, using the shells over and over can lead to soot forming various carcinogens.

Liuzhou Aquatic Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Bureau of Fisheries chief, who besides working for the longest named bureau in the city, has pumped up his expertise and pointed out the obvious by saying that fresh oysters will be attached to the shell and difficult to remove.

But I still won’t be eating any oysters unless I see them opened in front of me. Or open them myself.

Fresh oysters are available from RT Mart and in many markets (but make sure you trust the marketeer – some of the markets were also found to be selling empty shells and frozen oyster meat.)

Source: Chinese

. This entry was posted on Saturday, May 25th, 2013 at 9:08 pm and is filed under Corruption, Food and Drink, Health, Liuzhou News, Restaurants. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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