Murder Point Oysters are hand-farmed near Bayou LaBatre by the Zirlotts, a multi-generation fishing family. Mostly served raw on the half-shell, the bivalves are prized by fans and chefs from the Gulf coast to points north. The name refers to a notorious homicide over an oyster lease at Myrtle Point, which locals started calling Murder Point. With the slogan “oysters worth killing for” and a branded oyster knife they call a “shank,” Murder Point Oysters plays on that legend. We sat down with Lane Zirlott to tell us more about these premium oysters.
Describe the flavor of Murder Point Oysters.
You’re going to get a blast of salt when you first put it in your mouth, then a rich, creamy aftertaste right down the back of your palate, just like Momma dropped a little bit of butter on top of it.
If all east coast and Gulf oysters are the same species, why do they vary so much in shape, size, and flavor?
It’s like wine. The environment and how they’re grown plays so much of a factor in how it tastes. Where we’re at, Sandy Bay, we’ve got fresh water from the swamp and Horn Island Pass to the south provides an influx of salt water. Where those meet right on top of the farm you get that rich, creamy buttery taste. But if you went to Dauphin Island you get a little different taste, almost a minty taste.
How do you get your seed oysters?
We spawn our own oysters. There are not many farms that have a hatchery. We knew that to do this on any kind of scale we had to have our own supply of seed. We’re the only people that touch our oysters, from seed to plate.
How long do they grow?
We pride ourselves on providing a consistent oyster. A Murder Point oyster is going to be between 2½ to 3 inches. After about 10 months I can get about 10-15 percent to market. In 12-14 months, it jumps up to about 60-65 percent and then at 14-16 months I can probably have the rest of them to market, size-wise.
They’re best enjoyed raw. Are they too special to grill or fry?
The oyster snob in me wants to tell you by all means, never cook this oyster. But we’ve been playing with making our own flavors of butters and grilling the oysters. They’ve been phenomenal. My mom fries them up every now and then. It’s like dropping a little candy in your mouth. It’s so good.
(Q&A edited for length and clarity)