How to shell an oyster – the easiest and safest method

It may take some practice to comfortably shuck oysters, so be patient. The reward is totally worth it.

Before you begin, you’ll need good quality fresh oysters and an oyster knife. Oyster knives have sturdy handles and short, small blades. You can find them in just about any kitchen supply store and they are often sold at markets next to the seafood counter where you buy the oysters.

As demonstrated by Greg Voisin of Motivatit Seafoods, here are the basic steps for shucking an oyster.

1. Safety First: Wrap the hand holding the oyster in a tea towel. I am right handed, so I hold the oyster in my left hand. Place the oyster on a flat surface and hold it with your hand wrapped in a towel. (Once you get the hang of it, you can try holding the oyster in your hand like Greg did instead of putting it on the table. Go slow and be safe.)

2. Open the hinge: If you look at the oyster, you should see that it starts at a point and then flares out into its shell shape. The hinge is at that original point. Insert your oyster knife next to the hinge and move it back and forth until you feel it slide into the shell. Give the blade a twist and you should feel the hinge pop.

3. Separate the shells: With the tip of your knife still in the oyster, run it up between the shells. This can be tricky if you have a particularly stubborn oyster. Just keep wiggling and doing your best. Also, try tilting the knife to the top of the shell or to the bottom so you don’t cut into the oyster itself. Once you’re at the top, twist the blade again to separate the top and bottom shell.

4. Separate The Oyster: Slide your knife under the oyster and cut through the muscles holding it against the shell. Try not to spill too much of the liquid in the bowl, as that is tasty stuff.

5. Slurp and Repeat: My preference is to slurp the oyster straight from the shell, possibly with a drizzle of hot sauce to liven things up. If you’re feeling more civilized, use a fork to scoop up the meat.

This certainly takes some practice. Give yourself a few test drives before trying to impress your guests or anyone else.

Do you have any tips for oyster mushrooms for the first time?

(Information for this post was gathered during a press trip to New Orleans sponsored by the Louisiana Seafood Board. All views and opinions expressed in this post are the personal opinions of the author.)

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