Shuck an Oyster Like a Bad*ss Broad
Taylor Laitsch | @taylorlaitsch | Guest Contributor
Hello there, badass broads! It’s so nice to meet you. I’m excited to talk to you on a semi-regular basis here on The Broadview Denver about something I’m really passionate about: food! Today we’re going to tackle a topic some broads (and I have to say, it wasn’t too long ago I was in this category myself) may consider intimidating: oysters. Specifically, the shucking of them.
Oysters get a bad rap for a few reasons. For one, they’re sort of funny looking and squishy. Plus, they seem like something that should only be served in restaurants. I’m here to tell you neither of those things are true. OK, maybe they do look a little funny. But I promise your taste buds will find them delicious and that serving them at home is easy-peasy.
First we’re going to tackle how to shuck oysters properly, and then I’ll talk you through how to plate them all pretty-like for your future dinner guests.
We need to start with a dozen or two fresh, high-quality oysters. I suggest buying them the day before, or the day of your gathering. You can find them at your local seafood market--and yes, we do have a few great markets here in Denver like Marczyk’s, Silva’s, and Seafood Landing--or by hitting up the nearest Whole Foods. If you want to be fancy, select a few oysters from both the East and West coasts so you and your friends can taste the difference. East coast oysters tend to have a crisp, sweet flavor, while West coast oysters are a little more on the briney, salty side. (Secret tip: Some oyster bags include a harvest date telling you the exact day they were plucked from the water.)
Once you purchase your oysters, make sure to keep them refrigerated and do not - I repeat, do not - put them into a plastic bag. Oysters are the freshest of the fresh, as in, still alive. Bagging these little guys will suffocate them and that is not what we want.
Ok, onto the shucking.
What You’ll Need:
- 1-2 dozen fresh oysters (or more, depending on number of guests)
- Optional: cocktail sauce, hot sauce, lemon slices
- Serving tray
- Chipped ice, enough for a light layer on your serving tray
- Oyster shucking knife
- Oven mitt/kitchen towel
Check out your oyster. Most of them are flat on one side, and sort of cupped on the other. You want the flat side facing up, so the juices stay in the cup on the bottom. Now look for the hinge. The hinge is the part of the oyster where the shells are joined together. Insert your knife on either side of the hinge. This can require a bit of muscle, so don’t be afraid to go for it.
Pry open the hinge by twisting your knife. If you’re having trouble doing this in your hands, feel free to set your oyster on a flat surface/table while you work. See the pic above for what is often referred to as “the towel trick”--a way to hold the oyster firmly and safely while you get your shuck on.
Once you’ve pried the hinge open, you can start to slide your knife around the entire oyster, being careful to keep it as close to the top of the oyster as you can.
After you’ve cut all the way around the oyster, remove the top shell. You can get rid of the top shell, and keep your shucked oysters in the cupped half.
Gently slide your knife around the perimeter of the bottom shell as well to ensure the oyster will slide off of the shell easily. Some people also flip the oyster for the best presentation--to do this simply insert your knife under the oyster and scoop it out and around in the shell until the smoother underside is facing up.
Repeat with the rest of your oysters.
Add a thin layer of crushed ice to your serving tray. Arrange the oysters in the form of a circle on the ice. Although fresh oysters are delicious on their own, they are also great when topped with a squirt of lemon juice or a dab of cocktail/hot sauce.
There you go, broads! I hope you are no longer intimidated by the thought of tackling oysters at home and are inspired to make this no-cook dish for your next get together. Be sure to snap some pics and share them with us on Instagram or Facebook!
PS - If raw foods aren’t your thing, here’s a great recipe for grilled oysters.
Taylor Laitsch is the Marketing and Communication Manager for Seattle Fish Company, Denver's premier purveyor of the highest-quality seafood since 1918. Taylor has a passion for fish and seafood as well as the Denver restaurant scene. She is dedicated to sustainability practices in the food supply chain and is a discerning consumer of the trends--in food, fashion, and hospitality--Denver offers. Follow her on Instagram at @taylorlaitsch