Can Oyster Omelette Remedy Erectile Dysfunction?
All images by Xue Qi Ow Yeong for RICE Media

If oysters make people horny, can orh luak get them all sexed up too? 

Orh luak—or oyster omelette—is a Southern Chinese egg dish invented by coastal dialect groups, namely the Hokkien people (who hail mostly from Fujian province) and the Teochew people (who hail mostly from Guangdong province). A Taiwanese tale claims that oyster omelettes were invented by a 17th-century Chinese General who picked oysters from the beach and deep-fried them in starch to feed his starving troops.

It comprises oysters fried into an omelette made from rice flour, eggs, and the starch of a root vegetable like tapioca or sweet potato. Its variations can be found across Southeast Asia and are known by many names—in Thailand, it is known as hoi thot; in Hong Kong, it’s houh jai jin.

What’s not to love about it? The Singaporean version of this umami-filled dish is gooey in the centre and crispy on the sides. Topped with cilantro and spicy chilli paste, it works best as a shared delicacy that everyone at the table can nosh on with rice and vegetables.

But the prime ingredient of orh luak purportedly holds a special quality. Of course, I’m talking about oysters and their reputation as aphrodisiacs.

Like Mario’s Mushroom

The word ‘aphrodisiac’ is derived from the name of the Greek Goddess of love, Aphrodite. Science defines an aphrodisiac as any medicine or edible substance that arouses sexual desire, heightens pleasure, or improves performance.

The escapades of Giacomo Casanova have been passed down over generations—the 18th-century lothario attributed his sexual prowess to his daily consumption of dozens of oysters.

From east to west, many people believe that oysters can arouse, endow one with vitality for love-making, or even improve one’s erection.

What’s not hearsay but a harsh and common reality, however, is erectile dysfunction. Although ED mainly affects men above 40, many young men experience it, too. A 2007 survey noted that around 18 percent of men aged 20 to 39 struggle to get turgid, and a 2019 study observed that 81.5 percent of its respondents reported some level of erectile dysfunction.

A single Viagra or Cialis pill costs almost $100, but might a $5 serving of orh luak at the hawker centre be enough to charm your snake?

Scientifically speaking

“Various foods or supplements promote a link to our sexual nature in three general ways,” divulges Andrea Tan, a certified sex, love and relationship coach and founder of Athena Rising.

“The ingredients can introduce trace minerals that may promote feelings of well-being in our physiological setup; the ingredients can provide minerals that help increase our sex hormones and a range of bodily functions; or we might associate the texture, shape or nature of a food with pleasure or sex.”

Oysters are packed with zinc, which aids the production of testosterone and increases sex drive for both men and women. Zinc also supports the stability of dopamine levels, which aids our feelings of happiness and pleasure.

Also found in oysters is D-aspartic acid that boosts testosterone production, nitrogen that supports blood flow to the penis, Omega-3 fatty acids that also help blood flow and support physical activity, vitamin C that aids immunity and repair, and amino acids that are the building blocks of protein.

Furthermore, orh luak also contains garlic, onions, cilantro, and chicken eggs, which provide a wide array of micronutrients and amino acids essential to good health and overall strength. Orh luak is mostly starch and rice flour rich in energy. But don’t overeat, or you might risk falling into a carb-induced food coma right before doing the deed.

“Across all of it, the science is lacking in this claim that aphrodisiacs work. Unfortunately, I don’t see direct links between how these foods or aphrodisiacs create arousal and desire,” Andrea clarifies.

“Another way to look at it is, to my knowledge, no one is really orgasming from orh luak in coffeeshops.”

Omelette du Romance

“Orh Luak gives you vitality and is good for the heart and circulation,” Lim tells me in a mish-mash of Mandarin and Teochew. 

I approached Lim, a retiree in his 60s, as he was enjoying or luak at Ghim Guan Fried Oyster on Circuit Road on a weekday afternoon. Besides Ghim Guan, other popular orh luak hawkers in Singapore include Ang Sa Lee Oyster Omelette in Chomp Chomp Food Centre, Hup Kee Fried Oyster Omelette in Newton Food Centre and Song Kee Fried Oyster in East Coast Lagoon Food Village.

Has consuming orh luak made Lim a better lover? He blushes at the question.

“I just eat orh luak because I enjoy the taste… but yes, I think the minerals in the oysters help some people perform better.”

Nothing unusual about a bunch of heterosexual men enjoying an aphrodisiac together, so my friends and I followed suit.

Thus, three friends and I ordered two plates of orh luak—large portions to ensure each of us ingested a significant amount—and enjoyed this crisp and chewy omelette with its fiery sambal.

I returned to the office and watched the clock, trying to be as sensitive as possible to any emotions that might arise. For the first half hour, I didn’t feel anything out of the ordinary.

One hour—nothing. Two hours—not a lot hornier than I was yesterday. No lascivious thoughts, no compelling urge to open an Incognito tab.

I texted our group chat: “You guys feel anything from the orh luak?”

“Full,” one friend replied.

Another replied “Nah”, while the fourth said that he felt a little bit stronger in the gym.

Out of my tiny sample size of four, I’d say orh luak scored about a 25 percent success rate?

That night, I had no issues with my performance, so no complaints. Thanks, Ghim Guan.

Don’t Mistake Oysters for Therapists

If oysters were indeed effective aphrodisiacs, you’d see many dudes gingerly walking out of establishments like Tanuki Raw and Oyster Bank with their legs splayed wide apart. Jurong Fishery Port would have a teeming red-light district beside it. Oyster omelette chefs would be deemed a taboo but high-paying career choice.

If we desire to truly improve our love lives, what aspects of romance and relationships should we be scrutinising? We ask Andrea the hard questions.

She replies that there are exercises we can do to improve our sex lives involving the mind, body and heart. Crucial points to note for the sexless couples out there.

“Have conversations to demystify misconceptions and increase your knowledge of sex and pleasure because our beliefs, mindsets and expectations surrounding sex and pleasure are not ‘dirty’ but something to explore.”

Andrea also highlights that the quality of our orgasms is tied to physical experience. She recommends learning to become comfortable with certain types of sensory touch and learning to allow our bodies to relax instead of tensing up when we are aroused.

“Our relationship with our partner and a shared sense of love, play and fun during sex is important. If it isn’t fun or if we don’t feel as connected to our partners, our sex lives might feel like they lack a spark.”

What We Might Be Overlooking

To nurture a connected and healthy romantic relationship with a good sex life, Andrea recommends working on how we communicate in a relationship.

Andrea emphasises creating a sense of safety so that we and our partners feel safe while feeling vulnerable. There’s a need to learn how to manage our emotions when broaching topics around relationships, intimacy, or sex can act as triggers.

She also highlights love, appreciation, and respect—the three factors Andrea feels are essential to building healthy intimate connections.

“These sound cliche but are often overlooked. It’s very hard to want to flirt, play, engage in foreplay, be sexually attracted or desire a partner you don’t respect, or one who doesn’t appreciate and respect you.”

“If we keep looking to aphrodisiacs to make sex lives healthier, or worse, make poor sex lives better, we’re looking in the wrong place,” Andrea explains.

“I’ve also heard people recommending foods like avocado and asparagus as aphrodisiacs, which amuses me because asparagus makes pee smell more pungent, so how does that make asparagus an aphrodisiac?”

Climatic Conclusion

Here’s where I pass you a tissue. Viagra has been proven effective for up to 83 percent of men, and Cialis’ score is up to 77 percent.

Unfortunately, oyster omelettes don’t pose any stiff competition—there are no studies that register orh luak scoring anything close to the efficacy of leading erectile dysfunction drugs.

However, if you’re feeling the onset of male menopause (maybe your member is more often ‘tofu’ than turgid), then perhaps it’s time to shuck a few shellfish. Since the effectiveness of orh luak varies from person to person, there’s no harm in spending a few dollars at your neighbourhood orh luak stall just before your next performance. 

“Many healthy men with no underlying medical conditions turn to aphrodisiacs and might find that they don’t work,” says Andrea.

“This can be because of underlying issues involving intimacy or desire. Until they resolve those issues, they might drink and eat all sorts of aphrodisiacs and find that they don’t work. Enjoying a healthy sex life goes beyond using aphrodisiacs to plug a hole, pun not intended.”

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