I popped it into my mouth and chewed. Salt, mushroom and a touch of minerality, fresh and potent. What’s that, you say? Why yes, I have now tried my very first oyster leaf!
Oyster leaf (Mertensia maritima) also goes by the common names oysterplant or sea bluebells, and it grows wild in the northern parts of Canada, Greenland and Scotland. The plant was little known until it was picked up by avant garde chefs, like Ferran Adria and Grant Achatz, and incorporated into their tasting menus as a playful riff on the oyster.
I had heard of the oyster leaf before, but dismissed it somewhat skeptically as a stunt. I mean, how can a plant possibly taste like an oyster? Then, at the Star Chefs conference, I spotted a package of oyster leaf at the Fresh Origins Microgreens booth. They graciously let me sample a piece, and I was blown away by the resemblance to an oyster. Sure, you don’t get the oyster liquor or the same texture, but by and large, the oyster leaf matches the oyster’s brininess and earthiness spot on. It’s an incredible experience!
Sadly, the Fresh Origins folks did not have any oyster leaf available for sale, however you might be able to contact them for a source online. Or, if you’d like to try the oyster leaf in a restaurant setting, you can go to Alinea in Chicago, where it is currently on the menu.
Has anyone else tried oyster leaf? Would you be willing to skip the oysters for Oyster Leaf Rockefeller?!