Tuesday, September 11, 2018

How To: Shuck Oysters 

It has come to my attention that not everyone knows how to shuck oysters.  Like many things, it is not hard, but it does require the right tools.  I like this Oxo oyster knife - it is sturdy and has a slight curve up toward the flat side, which you probably can't see in the picture.  Sorry.  The back side has a reinforcing rib which makes it quite stiff and sturdy.

Oxo Oyster Knife

So grab an oyster.  Hold it with the hinge end (the thick, usually pointy end) towards you, and with the flat, or flatter side up.

Your snack awaits

Now, where to insert the knife?  Examine the edge of the oyster and you will see a zone, approximately half way between top and bottom, where the layers of the shell are very close together.  If you are lucky, you may see a dark band near the center. This is the junction between the lower and upper shells, and is not actually sealed. Instead the oyster is mightily holding the two shells together with its big muscle.

Where does the knife go in?

Nolw here's where you could get hurt.  Professional oyster shuckers (at an oyster bar, for example), frequently wear a chain mail glove on their left hand - you probably won't have that, so be *very careful*!

The moment of truth
Touch the knife, flat side up, to the junction between the lower and upper shells, about halfway between the tip of the shell and the hinge. Apply some pressure and twist the knife a little to help it penetrate the joint. Don't worry if you don't get exactly on the junction... the twisting motion will guide the knife tip to the junction. DON'T POKE YOURSELF IN THE LEFT HAND! If you're pushing really hard, you're doing it wrong. Twist more; push less.

Once you get the tip between the shells, swing the knife side to side while slowly pushing it in further, keeping the tip against the inside of the upper shell.  What you are trying to do is to cut the muscle that is holding the shells together.   It will be about midway across the oyster.  You'll know when you cut the muscle - suddenly there will be nothing holding the shells clamped shut.  Open carefully by twisting the knife, being careful not to spill the liquor inside, and be sure to scrape any meat off the under side of the upper shell.

Enjoy in your favorite way!

*No oysters were harmed in making this post - this was a re-enaction.  We ate them last nite...


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