worms on oysters?

Discussion in 'Restaurant Reviews' started by eloki, Aug 21, 2008.

  1. marylander

    marylander

    Messages:
    1
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    At home cook
    There's a saying here on the Chesapeake Bay 'only eat oysters with months that end in R'.

    Perhaps that's a universal saying, but it's kind of a notable rule around the Eastern Shore of the USA.
     
  2. lasagnaburrito

    lasagnaburrito

    Messages:
    205
    Likes Received:
    11
    Exp:
    Home Cook
    This conversation was very interesting, even though it is years old....

    I'm not sure if anyone will see this who posted, or anyone new, but I'm curious if people could have been eating dead worms on "Not so fresh" Oysters?

    I could only imagine being the manager and having people complain about worms all the time on your "super fresh" Oysters...


    It's also interesting, because the opinions of some people, vary from others, even if their opinion was very informational.  I think the posts of "Professional Oyster Catchers/Shuckers" are interesting, and it seems that the worms, as nasty as they are, are a sign of freshness, whic is good.

    The thing is, there was also mention of parasites and crap, so how likely is it to get a nasty worm, or some bad hitchhiker, into these oysters?

    It's also interesting that the oysters cannot be fully cleaned of these worms.  I'm not an Osyter/Clam eater so I haven't really had a good look at these creatures, but is there really a lot of places to hide?  They burrow into the shell?  No way to force them out?


    JTucker made an interesting comment about how these clams/osyters are important to the ecosystem of these "filter-feeders" so I'm curious if these worms actually do anything to HELP the oysters, possibly flavor/texture wise?

    I've heard about brewing beer and the fermentation process, as well as pro-biotics and that fermentation process, and the whole ecosystem and how it's basically a living thing...

    OR CHEESE!?  I hear Cheese is also a "Living organism," at least that was a comment on this site, since cheese is cured over time...  I guess the same could be said about meats that use a mold cure?


    So I'm curious about the Worms and if they could even be a positive thing, besides how nasty they "seem to be."
     
  3. virgil

    virgil

    Messages:
    65
    Likes Received:
    52
    Exp:
    Owner/Operator
    Worms in food is never a positive thing.  There is just no positive way to spin it.  Something like this, natural or not, can potentially be a restaurant killer, especially if the establishment centers its business around seafood.  

    I agree with one of the posters that worms in oysters are a sign the oysters are incredibly fresh.  Hence, the importance of a good, experienced shucker.  When I was a kid, we used to knock the oysters from the peer with a hammer at low tide and sell them for a nickel a piece to whomever would buy them.  When we cleaned them, we removed any young plant growth, algae or hitchhikers such as barnacles.  It was hard work and I still have the scars on my hands to prove it.  Occasionally, we ran into something that was just plain terrifying!  lol. 

    Restaurants do not pay shuckers very well and the farther away you go from the coasts, the harder it is to find someone who really knows how to properly shuck an oyster.  Here in the Midwest, there are very few establishments (and by "very few" I mean rare)  that will serve raw oysters.  A few high end places might serve oysters on the half shell. Obviously, geographic location is a bit of a concern.  However, there are restaurants all over the this area that serve fresh seafood, as in caught that day, fresh.  Its one of the benefits of being within a 2 hour flight of every coast in the US (except Alaska, of course).  Despite the relatively common fresh seafood joints in the area, very few will touch fresh oysters precisely because of the so called "risk" that is complicated by the scarcity of those who know how to properly shuck an oyster.  There is so much that can go wrong between when the oyster is harvested and when it reaches the plate, that most chefs figure its just not worth the risk. 

    Anytime I see oysters on the menu out here, one of two things is likely at hand.  1) They're crazy or don't know better or 2) the chef has had experience with oysters and knows what he's doing.  A few well placed questions to the server about the chef and the oysters will usually reveal which one of these possibilities is likely to be true.

    So, basically, worms in oysters, especially farmed oysters, are common, normal and expected.  Despite the level of gross that goes along with their presence, they are not a sign the oyster is "diseased" or unfit for consumption once the worm has been removed.  But, it is definitely one of those things that must never ever be allowed to leave the BOH....ever.  Like I said, something like that is a potential ice berg for an establishment.

    -V
     
    stephct and lasagnaburrito like this.
  4. stephct

    stephct

    Messages:
    1
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    Sous Chef
    I work in a seafood restaurant. We serve literally 60 dozen oysters a night. Minimum. They are all from Washington state. We soak & scrub all of our oysters before shucking. we recently had a worm in an oyster that went out for service. It was the first I've seen in at least five years. We find them on the outside all the time and they are harmless... your server probably was just trying to down play it so you wouldn't freak out although it was also probably not the best reaction.
     
  5. lasagnaburrito

    lasagnaburrito

    Messages:
    205
    Likes Received:
    11
    Exp:
    Home Cook
    Well, I don't mean positive for the establishment, hahaha, more for the Oyster itself.

    So, from what you were saying, is it possible to 100% make sure that the Oysters are "worm free," since others above said that it's really hard to make sure that your'e 100% clean, since they can burrow into the shelll and hide out, until cooking, or whatnot.

    By "Farmed" Oysters do you mean caught, or are they being "bred" and "farmed" within tanks as well? 


    What's "the BOH?"

    Thanks for the information, interesting stuff....

    Oysters just sound like a Disaster and a half for an Establishment to even want to serve, but I guess it's done.
     
  6. cheflayne

    cheflayne

    Messages:
    4,066
    Likes Received:
    442
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    Crashes can be a disaster and a half for an airline, but flights are still done.

    Oysters like any other food, if properly handled, held, and prepared are low risk.

    BOH (back of house)
     
  7. chefwriter

    chefwriter

    Messages:
    1,754
    Likes Received:
    319
    Exp:
    Professional Cook
    This has been a very interesting thread. In my two and half years working in New Orleans I shucked and ate lots oysters but don't remember the worm part. Maybe I just blocked it out. 
     
  8. chefross

    chefross

    Messages:
    2,615
    Likes Received:
    315
    Exp:
    Former Chef
    We purchase east coast oysters and have more of a crab problem than worms. Tiny crabs burrowing in under the oyster....yuck....
     
  9. pete

    pete Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    4,183
    Likes Received:
    802
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    That is what I remember from shucking oysters.  Don't know that I ever found a worm, but those little crabs appeared, if not often, at least regularly.
     
  10. critic

    critic

    Messages:
    1
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    I Just Like Food
    OMG yes that happened to me too. It was sooooo gross. Turned my stomach. I'll NEVER order oysters again...certainly not from that Japanese restaurant by the movie theater. I though the oysters looked kind of rough and unwashed....disgusting.
     
  11. chrislehrer

    chrislehrer

    Messages:
    1,893
    Likes Received:
    112
    Exp:
    Cook At Home
    Yikes. You definitely  should not be eating there!

    Japanese cooks normally begin every  preparation of seafood with something called mizuarai, which means "water-washing." This does not just mean rinsing stuff, it means fish are rinsed, gutted, rinsed, scaled, rinsed, boned, and rinsed. It's very wasteful of water, and there have been discussions among major chefs about how to adapt the methodology to a changing world. Shellfish are generally rinsed somewhat less than this, but they're rinsed a lot.

    In fact, some eaters from other places find this practice kind of irritating, because fresh, briny flavors get removed. It's not so easy to find a nice fresh briny oyster in Japan, to be honest, because they get rinsed so much.

    So if you're getting worms on your oysters in a Japanese restaurant, that tells me a bunch of things:

    1. They're not paying much attention to what they're serving,

    2. They're not handling their seafood terribly well, and

    3. They're not knowledgeable at the Basic Japanese Seafood Preparation 101 level.

    I wouldn't go back. Ever. God only knows what else they're serving, and how.
     
  12. yoda

    yoda

    Messages:
    10
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    Home Chef
    I have shucked many a oysters and never came across worms. I did occasionally get a small crab and like the worms, NO PEARLS.
     
  13. eastpakhammer

    eastpakhammer

    Messages:
    6
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    Former Chef
     HAHA I'll second that /img/vbsmilies/smilies/lol.gif