UM Redux: How to Shuck an Oyster
Raw oysters are ranked among my top five favorite foods of all time, and we have pages of blog posts on this subject throughout the years, from around the world. They are packed with nutrients like protein, iron, zinc, potassium, and more. I'm pregnant now so can't enjoy them as frequently as I'd like (doctor's orders, sad face), but I still sneak a slurp in now and again – like for this article!
I love everything about oysters – the briny flavors of the sea, the jewel-like texture (some would call it slimy), and ultimately, its humble simplicity. All you need is a shucker and a towel or glove, and the only thing stopping you from enjoying the oyster's sweet flesh is its stubborn, hard shell.
Shucking an oyster is challenging as hell, and is at first intimidating, but the prize inside is well worth it and once you get the hang of it, it'll open up a new world for you. They make a grand impression at dinner parties, and can instantly turn a small meal into a decadent, fancy feast.
DIY oysters are also the economical option, as they can run $4 per piece at restaurants these days (they can no longer be considered "humble"). I'll eat any variety, but am partial to the ones from the Pacific Northwest and the Canadian west coast. You can buy Miyagis or Fanny Bays for as little as 99 cents per piece at your fish monger, or splurge on Kumamotos for about $2.
This "How to Shuck an Oyster" article is a redux from Yoko's post in 2010, when she went to Tomales Bay Oyster Company (remember when they used to let you picnic there?!). It's an excellent tutorial so I will just write out her directions here – now with updated photos (also by Yoko)!
Towel or gloves
1. Place the oyster, curvy side down so that the flatter side faces up. Locate the hinge on one end of the oyster. This step is the trickiest part and may take a couple of tries.
2. Insert the oyster knife into the hinge. The tip of the knife should slip in about 1/4 of an inch. Force the knife about an inch into the oyster.
3. Once the knife is in the hinge, make a twisting motion with the knife so that the shell will crack open.
You will have to work around the edges while twisting to avoid breaking the top shell.
4. Feel around the inside of the oyster with your knife and make sure to cut off any muscle or strands that are attached to the underside of the top shell. Take the top shell off the oyster.
5. With your knife, free the meat inside the oyster from the bottom shell for easy slurping.
6. Make your bivalves presentable by placing them over pebble ice (get some from your fish monger when purchasing the oysters).
We love adding a dab of Yuzu Kosho onto raw oysters for a spicy kick!
My favorite drink pairings with oysters are Champagne, Martinis, and sake. This Forgotten Fortune Junmai is from Hiroshima, the land of all oysters – and the sake was brewed specifically to enjoy alongside them!
Yoko aptly says, "Shucking an oyster for someone else is also a loving gesture." I couldn't agree more!