The sun is melting across the evening sky; the air is warm and accompanied by a light breeze. It’s dinner time, and nothing sounds more delicious than a nice chilled oyster, filled with the delicious salty taste of the ocean. There are a few simple steps to remember when preparing oysters. We’ve compiled an easy-to-follow guide using information from The Spruce Eats and Serious Eats.
First, it is essential to know what kind of oysters are on the market. There are a few different types of oysters and many subcategories. We are going to focus on the two most popular varieties, Pacific and Atlantic Oysters.
Pacific oysters, as the name suggests, are found in the Pacific Ocean, and Atlantic oysters are, of course, found in the Atlantic Ocean. Both oysters are delicious but slightly different. The Pacific oyster has a distinct “softer, creamier texture.” On the other hand, Atlantic oysters are “salty and briny, with a clean, crisp seawater flavor” (Serious Eats). Whichever oyster you choose, they are both opened in the same fashion.
To begin, work on a sturdy surface such as a countertop or table. Make sure you have a paring knife (or something similar) for opening and a cutting board. Scrub your oysters before shucking; you can also fill a bowl with ice and place the scrubbed and unopened oysters in the bowl to keep them fresh. Protect yourself from any messiness with a durable apron.
In one hand, grasp a towel and hold the oyster firmly with the hinge side facing out. The towel should protect your hand from any sharp points on the shell and accidental slips; however, please always be careful and safe while working with knives and other sharp objects. With the other hand, gently wiggle the tip of your knife into the hinge. Once your blade is in ever so slightly, use leverage to pry. Try to move your knife in various directions and use very light pressure. The maneuver should narrowly separate the top shell from the bottom. With only a narrow opening, you need to cut through the muscle that keeps the shell closed. Keep the oyster flat, slice along the top shell, and continue working your knife to completely open the oyster.
With the oyster open, inspect it for a good smell, color, and liquid. It should be surrounded by liquid and transparent in color with no funny smell. You can discard the top shell along with the rare “off” smelling oyster. Lastly, severe the bottom of the oyster from the shell so that it can slide.
Place each oyster on a platter – we recommend with a lemon wedge, hot sauce of your choosing, and some dill for garnish – enjoy!
Disclaimer: if an oyster shell is already open prior to shucking or cleaning, we recommend you do not consume it.
Happy shucking, friends!