Don’t let oysters intimidate you, they are worth the effort! Oysters are one of nature’s perfect foods—briny, creamy, and surprisingly nutritious. Plus, oysters are an eco-friendly and sustainable source of healthy proteins.
Like wine, the taste, texture, and shape of oysters vary by location. The two most common (and delicious) varieties are East Coast and West Coast:
West Coast oysters have a ruffled lip and rough outer shell. They may also have a deeper cup, with an elongated body. Inside, they’re plump and fall on the sweeter end of the spectrum, with only a hint of brininess.
East Coast oysters are slighter stouter, with a smooth outer shell. Often larger than their West Coast counterparts, they’re savory, briny, and firm on the inside.
Once you get your oysters home, you have about 3-4 days to eat them. Be sure to place them in your refrigerator as quickly as possible, preferably in a glass bowl covered with a damp cloth.
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Once you’ve taken your jewels of the sea home, you have about 3-4 days to eat them. Be sure to place them in your refrigerator as quickly as possible, preferably in a glass bowl covered with a damp cloth in order to keep them fresh and cool.
How to Shuck an Oyster
1. Begin by washing your oysters under cold water to remove any debris from the shells. Look for any open oysters by checking the seam. Any open oysters should be discarded.
2. Start with an implement to open the oyster, ideally an oyster knife, but it can also be done with a table knife or even a flathead screwdriver. Place a clean dishcloth upon your work surface.
3. Inspect your oyster. Each oyster has a hinge at the tip that separates the shells.
4. Generally, an oyster will have a flat side and a rounded, more bulbous side. The flat side should face up.
5. Once you have located the hinge, place the oyster flat side up on the prepared dishcloth. Use the dishcloth to hold the oyster in place.
6. Insert the knife at, or next to, the hinge and twist the knife to pop open the oyster. The trick is to glide the knife until there is enough leverage to pry open the shell.
7. Once it is open, slide the knife across the bottom of the top shell to sever the muscle connecting the tissue to the shells.
8. Then pop open your oyster, discard the top shell, and check to ensure there are no fragments of the shell inside the oyster. Run your knife carefully under the oyster to sever the connection from the bottom shell.
9. Make sure to serve soon after opening. Keep cold by storing on a bed of crushed ice.
Traditionally, fresh raw oysters are enjoyed with a mignonette sauce.