Oyster Leafs Are The Newest Ingredient In Town

Nature's sleight of hand

At this point, we're used to having dishes look one way and taste another.

Whether it's spherical "olives" or noodles that are ribbons of squid, optical illusions are common in top kitchens.

But nothing prepared us for the simple surprise that struck when we tasted our first oyster leaf.

The name itself is a spoiler alert: These smooth, green leaves, no larger than an outstretched hand, have a distinct flavor of oceanlike brine. Texture notwithstanding, you'd swear you were slurping a pristine oyster.

For years, the plant was a foraged rarity: It grew wild only along the coast of Scotland and some of the British Isles. Thankfully, chefs began clamoring for the stuff, and farmers seeking niche crops–such as Viridian Farms outside of Portland, Oregon–began to cultivate the leaves.

Now it appears with frequency in farmers' markets across the country. It also graces menus of the country's best restaurants: Among its fans Jeremy Fox, Grant Achatz, Sean Brock.

You're never too old for a magic trick.