I’m ashamed to admit that I used to be weird about seafood. Their slow moving arms and legs creeped me out a bit. I think it’s because I was never exposed to really good seafood until my early 20’s. When Marc and I were dating, I remember ordering peel and eat shrimp that came whole with the head and legs attached. I gave Marc a slightly horrified look and he helped me peel the legs and heads off. On our honeymoon, we ate at a French-Carribean restaurant in the Turks and Caicos and again, whole shrimp ended up on my plate. It all seems so silly now. Thankfully, I made up my mind up to get over the weirdness and I did. I can’t imagine not enjoying fresh seafood now.
A few years back I had my first raw oyster and I was instantly smitten. It’s a little clumsy to eat, but fun, too. Fresh oysters taste a little briny from the ocean and you don’t want to lose any of the juice or liquor, as it’s called, because it contains that wonderful briny flavor. My idea of a perfect relaxing day would be eating oysters ocean-side to my heart’s content.
Marc and I took a day off together recently and we ended up at Whole Foods, of course. We spotted oysters and quickly became excited about shucking them ourselves. Our seafood guy recommended his favorite variety of oyster and we purchased 12.
We took turns shucking the oysters, learning along the way. Once you get your tools set up and a few oysters opened, you’re on your way to being a proper shucker. After the oysters are all open and nestled in coarse salt, you can gather your toppings. All I need is a touch of horseradish and a squeeze of lemon. They’re an incredible treat.
1. Place the oyster flat side on top, cupped side on the bottom, on a stable surface. Find the hinge of the oyster (the narrower end) which is where you’ll open the oyster. Wrap a kitchen towel over the rest of the oyster, exposing the hinge and get a good grip on the oyster.
2. Gentle persistence is the name of the game. Do not apply too much pressure with the knife toward the oyster as you do not want to injure your other hand if it slips. Insert the oyster knife in an area near the hinge that looks like a good point of entry. Begin gently pushing the oyster knife in and turning the oyster knife back and forth, like you would a screw driver or the key to your ignition, and after a little while of this, the shell will open. Some of the shell may need to flake off in the process and that’s ok. Just clean away as much of the flaked shell as you can (because you don’t want it inside the oyster) and continue turning the oyster knife.
3. Once the oyster is open and the knife is inside the shell, run the oyster knife along the inside of the top of the shell to dislodge the oyster from the top of the shell. Remove the top shell completely and discard.
4. Stabilize the oyster, making sure not to spill any of the tasty oyster juice inside the shell and use the oyster knife to detach the oyster from the bottom shell so that it can easily be eaten out of the shell. Place on your prepared platter with salt. It may take some time to open all of the oysters and you can transfer the platter with the shucked oysters to the refrigerator while you open more oysters. Enjoy!