At the tail end of August, we hosted an event with Linda Sarris aka The Cheeky Chef on the sprawling Coworkrs rooftop in Gowanus. As the sun set we learned the essential technique to properly shuck an oyster. The event was also appropriately called "Go Shuck Yourself". Below are you will find some helpful tips from the Cheeky Chef on how to Go Shuck Yourself at home.
Shellfish storage: Keep them cold and they will stay alive! Wash oysters when you get home in cold water then place the oysters (without any water) in small glass/metal bowl. Place that bowl over another larger bowl full of ice. This is the best way to keep them very cold in the fridge but not worry that they will sit in water. Do not put oysters in the freezer.
The Knife: The curved tip knife (New Haven) is the easiest to use as a beginner shucker.
Protection: Protect yourself with plastic gloves and a side towel. Rest the oyster on a sturdy surface.
Technique: Insert the tip of the oyster knife into the hinged corner where the oyster comes to a point with the flat shell on the top and the rounded shell on the bottom. Make sure to try "the wiggle and pop"; this technique makes it easier to open the shell and not hurt yourself with the alternative really strong jabbing motion. You just want to get the knife inside and then scrape across the top shell to cut open the adductor muscle that keeps it closed. Clean out any sand or small pieces of shell inside.
These are the two rules!
1. Do not puncture the belly of the oyster
2. Do not spill the oyster liquor (juice inside).
The Scrape & Slurp: Scrape carefully under the oyster to release the other side of the muscle so the oyster can easily come out as you slurp it from the shell.
Taste oysters on their own first ("naked") and then try others with a little squeeze of lemon or a simple mignonette sauce.
Other Techniques: The other option for shucking is the Boston-style oyster knife. This has a longer skinny flat blade. These knives are better for going into the rounded side of the oyster to open. More typical for larger, East Coast oysters.
Oyster condiments: lemon wedges, mignonette, or cocktail sauce
- 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
- 2 small shallots, chopped as small as possible
- a big pinch of coarse ground black pepper
- (no salt)
Cheeky Chef Peach Mignonette Recipe:
- 1 grilled peach
- 1/2 c. apple cider vinegar
- 1 small chopped shallot
- a few sprigs of fresh thyme or chopped chives
- black pepper or chili pepper to taste
Places to buy oysters in NYC:
- Greenpoint Fish & Lobster in brooklyn
- The Lobster Place in chelsea market
- Wild Edibles