About,  Archive

Just Shuckin’ Around

A beginner’s guide to shucking oysters
By: Heather Pierce

Most Danforth locals enjoy their oysters at restaurants such as The Auld Spot Pub (347 Danforth Ave.) or Globe Bistro (124 Danforth Ave.), but it’s easy to enjoy oysters at home. Shucking oysters can appear daunting to most, but it only takes practice to master. Oysters are the perfect-yet-simple addition to any dinner party, and their appearance at any festivity brings a level of sophistication.
Cast aside your fears, and follow these simple steps to shuck oysters at home.

What you’ll need:

  • Rubber gloves or a towel to protect your hands from the shell and barnacles.
  • An oyster knife.
  • A dish of ice to place the oysters in afterward.

crassostrea-gigas-p1040848_lTips for buying oysters:

  • Oysters are most firm and sweet in November to May.
  • Ask for the freshest oysters that day. They should be kept on ice.
  • Avoid oysters with a lot of seaweed and algae; barnacles are fine.
  • Oysters should smell like seawater, but not fishy.
  • Choose heavy and firmly shut oysters.
  • Don’t buy any open oysters—this means they’ve gone bad.

After you buy them, keep the oysters in a cold environment, such as your refrigerator, until you’re ready to eat. Keep the shells from drying out by placing a wet towel over them.

Beginner’s Method
1.    Clean the oyster of any dirt or grime with cold water. You may have to use a brush.
2.    Look at the oyster and find the hinge connecting the two pieces of the shell. This is where you’ll put your knife.
3.    While wearing gloves or using a towel over your hand, hold the oyster down on a flat surface. The flat part of the oyster should be in your hand, while the curved bottom should be on the surface.
MSCkeurmerk4.    Look for the hinge and insert the knife into it, then angle it downwards. Twist the knife to pop the shells from one another.
5.    Run the knife between the shells, keeping it along the flat half of the shell, while twisting the shells apart. Separating the shells can be tricky depending on how tough the oyster is. The goal is to not puncture the meat while separating them.
6.    Once separated, open the shell while holding it level, so as not to spill any juices. Discard the top flat shell. Check for dirt or any shell pieces.
7.    Carefully, separate the meat from the bottom of the shell by slipping the knife between the meat and the shell.
8.    Serve on ice with horseradish, lemon juice or hot sauce.

Once you’ve mastered the beginner’s method of shucking oysters, you can move onto the restaurant-style method of shucking:
oysters-p1040741_l1.    Follow steps 1-2 above.
2.    While wearing gloves or using the towel, hold the oyster cup in your hand, flat side up.
3.    Insert the knife into the hinge of the oyster, pointing downwards into the cup. Twist to loosen the top shell from the bottom. The shells should pop apart.
4.    Run the knife along the flat half of the shell while twisting it to separate the top from the bottom. This is done to separate the meat from the flat half of the shell. (Don’t break the shell or tip it. It might be difficult to open the shells, so be careful. When you open the shell, there should be no meat on the flat half.)
5.    Follow steps 6-8 above.

Leave a Reply