How To Shuck Oysters
- How To Slurp
When choosing oysters at the market, make sure that they be fresh. If one is open (which it shouldn't be) it should snap shut emphatically once tapped. If an oyster doesn't close immediately, don't buy or use it.
Oysters should feel heavy and full in your hand. Oysters lose moisture once they are removed from the sea. The heaviness suggests that they are freshly harvested. Oyster tip from Frank Bak: Tap two oysters together or one to the other. If there is a hollow sound, the oyster is dead. If the sound is solid, the oyster is alive.
Fresh oysters should smell sweet and briny like the sea.
Keep the unopened oysters cold but do not store in water! Remember, oysters are alive and need to breathe, so never seal them tightly in a plastic bag. Never immerse live oysters in fresh water or melted ice - it will kill them.
Open (shuck) shortly before serving - not more than 2 hours. The colder the oyster, the easier it is to shuck. Keep oysters cold at all times, partly for safety and very much to enhance flavor and texture.
Equipment Needed for Shucking Oysters:
(1) Prior to opening, be sure the oysters are alive by again checking that the shells are closed tightly. Scrub oyster shells well with a stiff bristle brush and rinse thoroughly under cool running water.
The oyster has a back, where the hinge or pointed end is; a front, the rounded end; a top, the flatter shell; and a bottom, the more cupped shell.
Using heavy gloves, hold the oyster firmly in one hand, oyster knife in the other. Position the oyster so the cup side is down (the curved side faces into your hand, and the flatter side faces up). Keep oyster as level as possible to save oyster juices.
Run the knife around the oyster until you get to the other side. Be careful, as this is where you can cut or stab yourself! Using a twisting motion, pry the top and bottom shells apart. Be gentle but firm so you don't lose any of the oyster juices inside.
Now is the time to eat the oyster or cradle it in its shell on ice for serving.
For some people, plain oysters are the ultimate; others like to add a squeeze of lemon and/or a little hot sauce.
This technique will produce an oyster that is only slightly cooked (more towards raw).
Steaming oysters is an easy technique to open the oysters. In a large pot, bring water to a boil (not more than 1/2 cup to 2 dozen medium-size oysters). Using long-handled tongs, place the scrubbed and rinsed oysters (round half of oysters down) on the bottom of the pot. Cover the pot let steam approximately 3 to 4 minutes or until the shells open. Life the oysters out gently so that you do not spill the wonderful oyster juice in the shells.