As well as delicious recipes, we at GFBF want to share seafood preparation knowledge so that you can have confidence when cooking seafood.
A freshly shucked oyster is a very different beast to the opened product at most fishmongers. Oysters are live until the are shucked and from that point on they deteriorate very rapidly. Added to this, most fishmongers will rinse shucked oysters to remove any trace of grit that might remain in the shell. This practice washes away the delicious brine in which the oyster sits.
Try freshly shucking oysters from different regions and sit down for a comparative tasting. You will be surprised and impressed by the differences, which come from the differing and unique environments in which oysters are grown in Australia. A freshly shucked oyster will taste of where it was raised and is a very special product.
Oyster knives come in various shapes and sizes and are available from kitchenware stores and many fishmongers. We prefer the ‘needle-nose’ variety. If you are an amateur oyster-opener we would recommend purchasing a knife/shucker with a thumb guard on it.
- Take a dry tea-towel or old cloth and an oyster knife (also known as an oyster-shucker).
- Place an un-opened oyster on the cloth flat side up with the ‘hinge’ facing your shucking hand (to the right for right-handers and the left for left-handers)
- Hold the Oyster firmly using your other hand. Use the cloth to protect this hand so if you slip you don’t stab yourself.
- Place the point of the oyster knife in the hinge and wriggle gentle until you find the ‘sweet spot’ – a small gap into which the knife wedges easily.
- Now apply downwards pressure to the knife, inserting it into this gap. Give the knife a wriggle and rotate it slightly until the lid of the oyster ‘pops’ open. You may need to apply some ‘upwards’ pressure here, by pushing down on the handle of the oyster knife to create some leverage. This is the hardest step and the one that takes the most practice. Don’t give up though, as once you’ve done it a few times you’ll find it easier and easier to find the ‘sweet spot’ and pop the oyster open, requiring less pressure. Practice makes perfect!
- Flip the knife blade horizontally and slide it between the main shell and the lid of the oyster to sever the muscle from the lid. remove and discard the lid.
- To loosen the oyster from the bottom shell, locate the small connective muscle. If you hold the oyster in your left hand with the hinge end facing to the left and imagine it is a clockface with the hinge at 9 O’clock, the approximate location of this muscle is at the 5 or 6 on the clockface. Slide the knife gently between the shell and the muscle to disconnect.
- If necessary, gently brush the oyster to remove any grit left from the shucking process.
- Place oyster on a cloth, rocksalt, ice or a specially designed tray to prevent it from tipping over. You don’t want to lose any of the precious liquid inside!
- Shuck remaining oysters and serve with a dressing or a simple wedge of lemon. Pour yourself something nice and enjoy the fruits of your labour. (The satisfaction of having shucked these yourself is going to make them taste all the better!)