There is a very enjoyable dish that anyone who has visted a Taiwanese night market must have enjoyed. It is an oyster omellete or er a jien (蚵仔煎) . It consists of a corn starch base with egg, a dozen or so fresh oysters and cuttings of fresh green vegetables. All quickly fried such that the oysters are just warmed and greens keep their stalks crisp. It is then covered with a mostly sweet but slight chilli sauce. Yum.
And surprisingly it is a very affordable dish. Where a dozen fresh oysters at home is a small luxury, here in Taiwan this dish is a cheap quick meal.
Well the port of Dongshih (東石) supplies 60% of the local oyster omellete market. We visted on a wet summer Sunday and discovered just how much oysters are part of this seaside town.
The large shallow bay is protected by an outer reef. Old oyster shells are strung on a length of line and hung on floating bamboo beds. Each old shell becomes the seed for many new oysters.
They are harvested and moved into one of the many shucking houses in town.
From there they are packaged and shipped to night markets all over Taiwan.
The town is littered with piles of the old oyster shells.
Not wanting to leave without a sample we purchased a small bag. At 200NT per kilo (USD7) they are cheaper than steak.
And as the old man who provided me a free sample later indicated with a rising finger, everyone the world over reckons raw oysters are great for mens virility.
A Hungry Girls Guide to Tiapei also covers this dish.