Cold-Water Filters of the Sounds

Fresh from his discovery of saffron milk cap mushrooms in Nelson, celebrity chef Mark McEwan is back on the water in the beautiful South Island of New Zealand. Today he is travelling to Tio Point to meet Bruce Hearn, co-founder of Tio Point Oysters. With over 35 years’ experience in aquaculture, Bruce has discovered the optimum place to farm fresh, sustainable and delicious seafood. Here in the clean waters of the Marlborough Sounds, a unique cold-water flat oyster can be cultivated – a gift of this pristine natural environment.

As opposed to oysters that are grown and dredged from the sea bed, Tio Point oysters are grown individually on ropes, allowing them to extract minerals from the pristine waters that surround them. Tio Point oysters thrive in the specific conditions found in this part of the world. Hanging away from grit and sediment, the cold, deep waters of the bay are largely unaffected by atmospheric conditions and provide the perfect habitat for the oysters to blossom.

Filtering up to 200 litres of water per day, these oysters are a Wonder of Nature borne purely of their environment. The nutrient-heavy waters of the Marlborough Sounds provide perfect conditions for oysters, totally unique in flavour, to thrive. Bruce plucks his bounty from the bay, harvesting the oysters by hand.

Renowned by connoisseurs the world over, the cold-water flat oyster is known for its high meat to shell ratio and distinct taste. Carefully shucking the oysters, Mark creates a twist on a traditional cocktail sauce, designed to enhance the sharp flavour and firm texture of his special harvest. Using a blend of commonly found ingredients including ketchup, grated horseradish, sweet-chilli sauce and a squeeze of fresh lemon, this recipe is simple, yet delicious. Creating a beautiful contrast of sweet and salty, Mark’s recipe allows the fresh oyster to take centre stage. Paired perfectly with a crisp Stoneleigh Sauvignon Blanc, Mark and Bruce relax to enjoy the fruits of their labour, plucked from the wild and straight to the plate.

Chef Mark McEwann Discovers Oysters on Ropes
Chef Mark McEwann Cooking with Tio Point Oysters
Tio Point Oysters
Tio Point Oysters

Here in the majestic Marlborough Sounds, the self-sustaining life cycle of Tio Point oysters is Bruce’s livelihood and a wonder of nature that is special to this untouched part of the world.