How to perfectly shuck oysters

By / Mavericks / April 13th, 2017 / 11

Oysters are invading! We’re seeing them in our local bars, replacing nuts, chips and pretzels. Experts are popping up, trying to identify the origin of an oyster by the brine, acidity and shape alone. And new sauces and flavour combinations have been created around these succulent bivalves. While this invasion is tasty, it’s coupled with a certain squeamish shudder and hesitant “how exactly do I get to the edible part?”

Feeling Squeamish?

Here are a few tips to ease you into the trend so that you can slurp and chew with confidence:

Start small

Smaller oysters slide down easier and will help you adjust to the texture and taste. Try Kumamoto from Oregon as an excellent starter oyster.

Know your flavours

Oysters are available in three levels: mild, briny and buttery. Start with mild and work your way through a tasting of all three. Experts at your local oyster bar can help you taste your way through.

Slurp & chew

Tasting oysters, like wine, is very subjective. But the process is much the same:

Look: healthy oysters fill the shell with fat, firm meat. If it looks small or dried out, chuck it.

Smell: oysters should smell very fresh and salty, like the sea.

Slurp: slurp the meat and juice together out of the shell.

Chew: be sure to chew two or three times. It is tempting to let the oyster slide down your throat, but you’ll miss the flavours that way.

Taste: salt will hit first, followed by cream or butter flavours with a sweet finish. The levels of each will vary depending on the oyster itself.

Pair with …

Oysters pair really well with Champagne or stout. If you’re feeling adventurous, order a gin martini with a lemon twist.

How to Shuck Oysters

Eating oysters requires some dexterity and the clever use of an oyster knife.

  • Hold the oyster down on a flat, clothed surface.
  • Slide the tip of your oyster knife into the small hole at the hinge of the shell.
  • Wiggle the knife and push it all the way inside to break the hinge.
  • Slide the knife along the top to cut the adductor muscle that fixes the oyster to the top shell; remove the top shell.
  • Keeping the bottom shell flat (so that you don’t lose any of the juice), slide the knife under the oyster to cut the adductor muscle that fixes it to the bottom shell.
  • Repeat for all oysters.
  • Plate and serve!

A freelance writer and editor, Lisa Hoekstra loves learning and trying new things. She can be found with her nose in a book or multiple tabs open on her browser as she researches the latest and greatest in the world of food, style and everything in between.

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