Oysters can be challenging, not only in terms of taste and texture, but in the effort it takes to open them up for consumption. The tightly clamped shells must be pried apart, ideally without stabbing yourself in the hand. And there’s a bit of finesse involved, not just brute force, but with the right tools and simple technique, it’s easy to get the hang of it. So, read on to learn how to shuck an oyster.
Tools You Need to Shuck an Oyster:
OXO Good Grips Oyster Knife with Non-Slip Handle, $9.99 on Amazon
A sturdy oyster knife is an absolute must, of course.
Dowellife Cut Resistant Gloves, $8.99 on Amazon
While a clean kitchen towel will do for gripping the oyster, some people like the extra protection of blade-resistant gloves.
How to Shuck an Oyster:
1. Fold a clean kitchen towel to use as a protective mitt (or don a cut-resistant glove). Hold the oyster—curved side down so that when you open it, the deeper shell will catch the precious oyster liquor—in your towel- or glove-protected, non-dominant hand. Rest this hand on a steady, flat surface for extra insurance against slips.
2. With your dominant hand, hold the oyster knife firmly by the handle and wedge the point of the blade into the hinge that connects the shells. Don’t try to use a regular knife, as the blade will be too thin and not ideally shaped.
3. Press down and turn the knife as you would a doorknob, exerting minimal forward pressure. As you turn the knife, there will be a slight, satisfying “pop” as the joint gives way.
4. Take out the knife and wipe it free of sediment. Then slide it back in between the shells and cut the muscle that holds them together.
5. Remove the upper shell, and carefully run the knife under the oyster meat to release it.
Now you’re ready to enjoy your oyster as-is, or add a few extras.
Mignonette is a classic French sauce of vinegar, shallots, and pepper that often accompanies raw oysters. You can riff on the basic flavors; for a clean, cooling version with double the oceanic appeal, try our Oysters with Caviar and Cucumber Mignonette recipe. Or accent it with another classically romantic ingredient: Champagne (or Prosecco, its close cousin). Get our Oysters with Prosecco Mignonette recipe.
For fancier types who like to pair their oysters with alcohol, you can try our Oyster Martini recipe, but this classic spicy, salty shot is a great way to enjoy oysters (or pretend you like them when you really just want to bolt them down as fast as possible). Get our Oyster Shooter recipe.
Read more about all things oyster.
Zyliss Oyster Tool, $14.95 at Sur La Table
Another oyster-shucking option, this silicone sleeve securely holds your bivalves, and the accompanying knife slides easily between the shells while offering an ergonomic grip.
Header image courtesy of Jamie Grill/Getty Images.