Shucking Oysters Article - Allrecipes.com
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How to Shuck Oysters

Get tips for safely opening and removing oysters from their shell, plus recipes for cooking with oysters.

1. For oyster shucking, you'll need an oyster knife: a short, stubby blade with a bulbous handle for easy gripping.

You need to exert a lot of pressure to open oyster shells, so pay careful attention to the angle of the knife and the positioning of the towel holding the oyster. For extra protection, wear a heavy-duty work glove on the hand holding the oyster.

    2. Wrap the oyster in a towel and place it securely on a flat cutting surface with the hinge in the end of the oyster facing out. You want to place the tip of the knife on either side of the hinge. Using a good deal of pressure, push the knife into the hinge. Twist the knife from side to side in order to pry the shell open.

      3. Oyster shells are brittle and splinter easily; if the shell splinters and the knife isn't angled so that is pointing down toward the cutting board, it would be easy to lose control of the knife. Hold the oyster firmly on the cutting board to keep the oyster from sliding away.

        4. Once the knife has popped the hinge, pry the lid open wide enough to fit the top of your thumb inside. Insert your thumb into the oyster to hold the lid open. Do not plunge the knife into the oyster once the hinge has popped.

          5. At this point slide the tip of the knife inside the oyster. Keep the tip of the knife slanted upwards and slide it along the roof of the oyster. The tip should not scrape the roof. It should glide along the roof until it reaches the muscle that connects the two shells, then slice through the connective muscle. Cut the muscle from the top of the shell without piercing the oyster itself. This will allow you to lift off the top shell, exposing the raw oyster.

            6. Because their shells are fragile, there are often small fragments that break off in the process of oyster shucking. These little bits of shell can resemble sand, so scrape them away being careful not to pierce the oyster in the process.

              7. Carefully slip the tip of the oyster knife underneath the body of the oyster into the muscle where the muscle meets the shell. Slice through it. At this point the oyster has been dislodged from the shell completely and can be served or cooked.

                8. If you are planning to serve the oyster on the half shell but accidently damaged it in the shucking process, simply slip the knife underneath and gently turn it over. The flip-side of the oyster can be better looking than a damaged top.

                  9. The oyster should be plump and floating in liquid. This liquid is the natural juice from the oyster and is often referred to as liquor.

                  Raw oysters on the half shell can be served on a bed of cracked ice or rock salt, with lemon wedges and bottled hot sauce, or Mignonette sauce--a shallot vinaigrette. 

                  When cooking with oysters, there are lots of possibilities. They can be baked, steamed, or grilled. And shucked oysters can be batter-fried, sautéed, used in soups or stews, or in special preparations such as dressings, poultry stuffings, or specialty appetizers.

                  To keep oysters alive until you are ready to cook with them, wrap in a cool, moist towel and store them in a refrigerator. Oysters are good stored this way for up to two days.

                  Comments
                  oy boy 
                  Nov. 16, 2010 6:59 pm
                  Ouch! The knife hurts. I use this new thing - the oyster-opener,com thing. . a dril bit thet pops the oyster's shell. I swear, I stopped trying to open these passive aggressive animals before I discovered it.
                   
                  danak8 
                  Nov. 28, 2010 6:24 pm
                  Seriously, you have it all wrong. It doesn't surprise me though. Last year, we were at the New England Oyster House in Boston. Their technique is similar to yours. Shuck them like the French do, and you'll enjoy them without making a mess, contaminating the oyster, or munch on broken shells. 1. Rinse the oysters if you collect them in the wild; otherwise, no need to bother. 2. Set an oyster (round side down) in the palm of one hand (hinge end near wrist 3. Slide a clam knife (4-5 in. thin but not sharp blade) into the edge closer to you, about 1/3 from the end (opposite the hinge) and along the top shell, severing the muscle, thus allowing the shells to part. Voilà! ...The oyster will flood the remaining shell with liquor. Use this bath to wash the delectable animal. Lightly, shake it out. Don't be concerned; there is plenty more to come. 4. Next, slide your knife under the animal, severing the other muscle. 5. Place the oyster on the serving tray (preferably on a bed of crushed ice)
                   
                  danak8 
                  Nov. 28, 2010 6:27 pm
                  Be sure to wear painter's gloves!
                   
                  Dec. 20, 2010 12:05 pm
                  I found that if you put the oysters in a cooler of ice with cornmeal 1cup or more over night it will clean them up and plump them up
                   
                  Feb. 15, 2011 2:57 pm
                  My mother always let oysters (and clams and muscles, too) sit in a bath of cornmeal and water for a few hours before eating them. It does indeed fatten them up and clean them, it also makes them taste a bit sweeter. Very good advice. Time tested, they always turn out delicious.
                   
                  Lynne 
                  Feb. 19, 2011 12:31 am
                  I'm looking for any and ALL advise. Started working for a restaurant where I'm responsible for shucking all oysters! We are a steak house and have Rockerfeller as well as on the half shell. I work the pantry line.
                   
                  Hayden 
                  Nov. 7, 2012 8:21 am
                  Great tips! Learning how to shuck oysters by hand is a skill that all seafood fans should probably pick up at some point. Using a mesh oyster glove rather than a towel may be a good idea for beginners, though. Shucking by hand is a great thing to know how to do, but if you regularly find yourself needing to prepare a large amount of oysters, investing in a more mechanical solution may prove to be worth the money. The Vollrath Oyster King is a great example of a simple device that will speed up the shucking process and keep your hands safe from the occasional knife slip. These sorts of devices are especially useful in busy restaurant environments in which oyster shucking is typically done in a hurry and with bare hands in between other pressing kitchen tasks. The Oyster King is essentially just a flat piece of ridged stainless steel with an attached lever knife. The ridges hold the oyster in place while you use the lever to quickly pop open the oyster with minimal effort. It'
                   
                   
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