Also known as Crassostrea Sikamea, the kumamoto oyster is a native of Ariake Bay in Kumamoto Prefecture, on the southern Japanese island of Kyushu. This Japanese import is one the most widely cultivated oyster on the West Coast of the United States. Because it comes from such warm waters, the Kumamoto doesn't spawn naturally in the colder waters of the Western coast of North America. As a result they are the sweetest and most flavorful in the summer months, which is when they get closest to spawning.
Oysters are considered less appealing during spawning. In order to grow them, shellfish farms heat the water they are in to induce the spawn. Given their size and milder flavors, they are a good oyster to try on the half shell for the first time.
Kumos take 3 years to reach market size. Typically smaller than other oysters, about 2-3 inches in length, Kumamotos, are round in shape with a deep cup and slightly scalloped shells.
Selecting and Buying
Preparation and Use
Kumamotos are best on the half shell since they are smaller than other oysters. If you do choose to cook, try light poaching or including in a soup. More intense cooking, such as frying or baking, would lead them to be overcooked and overpower their delicate flavors. Try serving with a yuzu mignonette.
Conserving and Storing
Keep cold in the refrigerator or on ice. If using ice, do not allow them to be submerged in the ice water for extended periods as this will kill them.