I just learned there is something called Oysterfest here in San Diego. And it’s happening this weekend! I still haven’t decided if I will go or not, but music, drink, and shellfish will abound.
However, for all you shellfish lovers out there who might not have access to an Oysterfest, it is very possible to prepare and eat fresh oysters at home.
But you might need to know a little about how to shuck oysters. So I decided to document my experience here. If you have a shucking knife, please use it. This will be the most effective tool for shucking your oysters. If you need to see what it looks like, or need to buy one, here’s a good option.
However, I found that using a sturdy paring knife can be pretty darn effective and you don’t need to go out and buy extra kitchen equipment. But, please take note- you absolutely will want to protect your hands with kitchen gloves to prevent injury. As long as you’re careful there is not a huge risk to you, but a misplaced blade can certainly result in a pretty painful unintentional stab wound (I had a close call, but no stabbings happened this oyster shucking in The Gourmet Gourmand kitchen).
The process for shucking oysters starts with making sure your oysters are all alive and safe for eating. If it’s dead it will hang open slightly and won’t close up when rapped on the edge of the counter. Toss it. The live oysters will be firmly shut and really pretty impossible to pry open.
The meat of the oysters (which is what we want to eat), is attached to both sides of the shell by the adductor muscles, which are little muscles that are very effective at holding the shells tightly closed. You need to disrupt them by wedging open the shells and slicing the muscle without completely destroying the delicious inner goo. Step 1: Look for the hinge. It will be at the pointy end of the oyster, not the flat and rounded edge. Step 2: Insert your shucking or paring knife into the hinge. There will be resistance, but you should be able to locate a soft-ish area where you can wedge your knife.Step 3: Wiggle your knife a bit until you can pry the two sides of the shells open slightly and then twist until you hear a pop. This is the hinge being opened.Step 4: Slide your knife carefully down one of the sides of the shell, with the blade facing toward the meat of the oysters. Carefully slice through the adductor muscle and then you should be able to open the oyster completely.
Step 5: Carefully sever the other adductor muscle so that the oyster meat is free. Step 6: Prepare by grilling, broiling, or eating raw.
Stay tuned for my next post on how to prepare your oysters!