Hawaiian Hualālai oysters

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Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, Hawaii, has introduced Hualālai oysters, grown and harvested on site.

David Chai, the Resort’s Director of Natural Resources, led the effort in getting these oysters produced. Over the past 12 years, he tested various types of oysters to determine which were best suited to grow in Hualalai’s unique lake waters. Eventually, a variety of Eastern oyster – crassostrea virginica from a parental lineage of the Chesapeake Bay area – were selected.

Raised in the Resort’s Punawai Lake, the oysters grow in water that comes from a pristine subterranean seawater aquifer, tapped and drawn from wells deep within the lava. Punawai Lake is self-contained, offering clean and pure water, allowing these oysters to be grown organically. The oyster production also stabilises the phytoplankton bloom within the lake to avoid algae ‘crashes’ or mass die-off of the phytoplankton, which consequently leads to oxygen depletion within the lake.

The Oyster Growing Habitat at Punawai Lake is currently stocked with approximately 9000 oysters ready for harvest with capacity being increased to 30,000 oysters by mid-summer 2016. These oysters will be available only to guests and homeowners at Four Seasons Resort Hualalai.

Once pulled from the lake, Executive Chef Massimo Falsini and his team will serve these oysters in three of the Resort’s restaurants. ‘ULU Ocean Grill features Hualalai oysters on the half shell with hot Damskey and yuzu ponzu sauce; a fried Hualalai oyster po’boy with arugula, WOW tomatoes and remoulade is served at Beach Tree; while Hualalai Grille offers Hualalai oysters on the half shell with spicy Maui onion and ogo mignonette and cocktail sauce. Chef Falsini exercises full control of the salinity (brininess) of the oysters and can adjust it, based on the palate of Resort guests.

“We are incredibly excited to introduce Hualalai oysters to our guests. The harvesting of these oysters is a real testament to our commitment to sustainability throughout the Resort,” says Chai. “Chef Massimo and his team will serve oysters raised here at Hualalai, in a completely organic and sustainable fashion – another way we respect and foster the land and water of this beautiful island.”

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