Sweet and briny, oysters served at home make any meal more special. But first you need to learn how to shuck an oyster.
To begin, you’ll need an oyster knife – a sturdy blade with a good point for plenty of leverage at the hinge. A leather hand protector is also a good idea.
Just before shucking, simply rinse the oysters in cold water to rid them of surface mud. Fill a bowl with ice water to keep oysters cool and gather another bowl for the spent shells.
Fill a platter for serving with coarse salt or crushed ice to help stabilize the oysters.
Set the oyster cup side down (obvious in all but the flattest of flat oysters) and locate the spot where the shells are hinged. Hold the oyster firmly in place with a gloved hand, towel, or leather protector so that only the hinge is exposed, placing your non-dominant hand on top to hold it steady. Probe at the joint with your knife, wiggling the knife side to side as well as up and down, until you hear the hinge pop.
With the blade inside, but the shell still sealed, scrape between the top of the shell and the oyster to cut the upper abductor muscle.
Once the oyster shell has popped, twist the knife so that the broad flat of the blade pries the shells apart.
Lift the top shell and look closely for any shell fragments inside the shell, especially near the hinge, using the tip of the clean oyster knife to remove them. Take care not to tip the oyster and lose the liquor around it.
Finally, slide your knife under the oyster meat, close against the cupped side of the shell, and free the oyster from the bottom shell.
Set oysters on prepared platter and serve with a squeeze of lemon, or this classic mignonette.
This recipe makes enough mignonette for a dozen oysters.
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon minced shallot
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
12 large oysters, freshly shucked
Stir vinegar, shallot, and pepper in a small bowl. Drizzle over oysters.
Join us every Saturday and Sunday on the front patio of SHED for oysters shucked to order. Learn more with our post California Oyster Varieties.