How to Shuck Oysters
To begin, it is imperative that you obtain an oyster knife. An oyster knife is a small blade, shaped like an arrow head, with a shield close to the handle to protect your hand (kind of like a fencer's sword) Last year, I tried shucking oysters with a flat screwdriver because I lacked an oyster knife. Eventually, I was able to open the oysters, but it took all of my strength banging them against the counter, shell shards flying all over the kitchen, I'm really surprised I didn't slice open or puncture my hand with that screwdriver. What was I thinking? Tonight, I used a true oyster knife and was able to shuck twice as many oysters in half the time with hardly any shell shards outside of the towel I was using to protect my hand.
After you obtain your oyster knife and have purchased your oysters, you are ready to start shucking. Gently clean each oyster with a scrubbing brush under cool water. Place a folded up tea towel in your left hand and place the oyster in your left hand on top of the tea towel with the point of the oyster facing you. In the point of the oyster, you will see a small place where the two halves of the shell are slightly separated (it is not big at all). This is the hinge of the shell. With the oyster knife in your right hand, place the point of the knife in this hinge. FIRMLY press the knife into this space, wiggling back and forth, up and down until you break the hinge. After you break the hinge, the two halves of the oyster will separate slightly, but there is still a strong muscle holding the halves together. Take your knife and work it around the oyster until you cut through the muscle. Once you cut through, the two halves will separate. Now, you will only need to keep one half of the shell (the one that is most bowl like). Separate the oyster from the shell on both halves and place them into that shell. Pour the oyster liquor into a small saucepan and place the oyster shell onto a prepared cookie sheet that has a thick layer of salt on it to prevent the oyster shells from rolling. Continue shucking all of the oysters, plan on 6 per person. When you are finished shucking, here is a simple way to prepare them if you're at all squeamish about slurping them down raw.
Broiled Oysters with Lemon Zest by Joie de vivre
18 oysters on the half shell (6 per person)
The oyster liquor from the oysters
1/4 cup white wine
sliver of butter
lemon zest from 1 lemon
1. Place the oyster liquor, white wine and butter in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then strain into a large measuring cup with a pouring spout.
2. Pour a small amount of liquid into each oyster shell.
3. Broil the oysters for 3-4 minutes.
4. Sprinkle a little lemon zest over each oyster.
5. Eat immediately with fresh bread. Yum!