Akoya are grown off the coast of Albany, Western Australia where they thrive in the cool waters of the Great Southern region.This oyster species, once known just for its pearls, is starting to take off in the culinary world, prized for its meaty flesh, clean and saline taste profile, and the range of ways it can be eaten. If you’ve never tried an Akoya, now is your time. Chefs across the country are jumping on board and it’s becoming easier than ever to sample this unique shellfish for yourself. Top Victorian chefs brought us into their kitchens to share how they’re serving it.
Tippy Tay in the CBD’s sprawling Garden State Hotel is an Amalfi Coast-inspired venue that specialises in fun, easy-going Italian cuisine. Chef Jordan Tawnell Monkhouse – a WA native who is passionate about his home state’s produce – is taking advantage of the Akoya’s unique tolerance for high-heat cooking. Monkhouse’s Akoya al forno (“from the oven”) sees them blanched, shucked, baked, and served in the shell with wild garlic and a spicy pangrattato (breadcrumbs).
Cantonese diner Mya Tiger – upstairs at the Espy – has sweeping bay and city views. It also serves an inventive Akoya-led dish. Head chef Suppawat Chatkaew uses Chinese-American flavours, opting for battered-and-fried Akoya oysters served on the shell, dressed with a sticky fruit sauce, Kewpie mayo and sesame seeds. Think of it like the sweet and sour pork of the sea.
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Fitzroy stalwart Naked for Satan is best known these days as a boisterous drinker complemented by an excellent, internationally flavoured bar menu. Chef Dan Greenwood is giving the Akoya a South American slant, opting for a fresh, zesty ceviche with plenty of kick. Greenwood marinates six Akoya in rhubarb leche de tigre, a zingy sauce of rhubarb and lime juice, chilli, coriander, and fish stock. They’re then served alongside a raw rhubarb salsa and pickled onions, resulting in a complex starter bursting with typical Naked for Satan energy.
Louey’s, also in the Espy, riffs on classic Italian-American cooking. We’re talking spaghetti and meatballs, fried lasagne, and rigatoni in red sauce. It strays a little from this when it comes to its take on Akoya, though. Chef Telina Menzies blasts the Akoya oyster and bone marrow over a wood fire, balancing the richness with crispy anchovies, wild green garlic and nasturtium.
Brighton’s upscale Italian spot Bottarga blends classic flavours with fine dining techniques, and it’s all on show with its Akoya dish. Owner and chef Federico Bizzaro highlights the natural qualities of the briny bivalve by serving it as is, topped with Avruga (a smoky caviar substitute made from herring), a garlic pearl gel and sweet yuzu dressing. It’s salty, smoky, zesty and an excellent starter.
At Melbourne’s Nobu outpost at Crown Casino, chef de cuisine Rinet Burnett riffs off a signature Nobu dish: salmon new style. For that dish the salmon is dressed with a bubbling-hot, flavoured oil. Here, Burnett briefly poaches Akoya in the shell and drops them into an ice bath before removing the shell and topping everything with a spicy lemon, soy and ginger sauce. To serve, Burnett ladles hot oil over the top for a final sear.
At Beso, globetrotting Spanish chef Ana Cortes Garcia brings Andalusian cuisine to Melbourne in a way that blends the new and old. For her Akoya dish, the former Lee Ho Fook chef makes an escabeche (a zesty Spanish sauce) of orange juice, lemon peel, caramelised onion and garlic, and fragrant spices like cinnamon and cloves. The Akoya is then very lightly poached in the escabeche and served with the sauce over crusty sourdough.
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Harvest Road.