Kerry Heffernan has long been a seafood expert and sustainability advocate. Formerly the executive chef of Eleven Madison Park and South Gate in New York City, and now the culinary head of Crew hospitality group, which operates half a dozen seafood restaurants, mostly on boats, in the city, Heffernan raises his own oysters under his dock in Sag Harbor, N.Y., and serves them at Grand Banks, a restaurant on a boat docked at Manhattan’s Pier 25.
Unlike many oyster aficionados, Heffernan says you should drain the liquid off before eating it.
“I believe that this is the last gulp of saltwater that the animal had and all it’s going to do is dilute the experience,” he said. But it’s also important to understand and appreciate the oyster’s anatomy — to enjoy the flavor of the salty gill, the “deep oyster funk flavor” of the belly and the sweet flavor of the adductor muscle.
Heffernan demonstrates how to do that. Although the particular oyster he eats hasn’t had the adductor separated from the shell, it doesn’t really diminish the experience and makes for more enjoyable viewing.
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