How To Shuck an Oyster in 5 Easy Steps
Getting to an oyster seems like an arduous task, what with using a special knife and all that twisting and popping of the shell. But it doesn’t have to be if you follow our simple steps. And remember—practice makes perfect; the more you shuck, the better you’ll be at it, and of course the homework is pretty darn tasty.
Open the oyster just before eating or cooking it. Start by examining the oyster; if the shell is cracked or open slightly, discard it. Scrub the oyster under cold, running water.
Place the oyster, hinge side facing you, on a thick, clean kitchen towel, doubled, and sit on a stable surface or hold in the palm of the hand opposite the one in which you will hold the oyster knife.
The cup, or deep side of the oyster should be on the bottom and the flat lid should be on top; this will keep the oyster liquor in the shell. Grab your oyster knife—a knife specifically for this purpose. It has a short, stout blade and large handle; do not use another knife for opening oysters.
If you are not experienced at shucking oysters, wear a pair of work gloves.
Aww, Shucks. You're ready to begin.
1. Firmly grasp the oyster knife and place on the seam of the hinge, gradually pushing in and working it back and forth. Do not apply too much force, and do not push in too far or it will cut the oyster.
2. Twist the blade of the oyster knife back and forth until there is a slight pop and the top of the oyster is released.
3. Run the knife in one solid motion upward and directly along the shell to cut through the adductor muscle, which holds the oyster body to the shell.
4. Similarly, run the blade under the oyster, too, to free the meat.
5. Discard the top lid and remove any small bits of shell from the oyster meat. Place opened oysters on a lidded platter filled with crushed ice to keep them chilled and serve immediately.
Special thanks to Executive Chef Stephen Gellas at Off The Hook Seafood market and restaurant in Chesapeake for opening the oyster in these photos.