How to Shuck an Oyster Like a Pro
If you love fresh Nova Scotia Oysters as much as we do, you probably already know that some work is required to access the delicious inside of these bivalves. At first glance, oyster shucking can appear somewhat intimidating, but learning how to shuck an oyster like a pro may not be as hard as you think.
Becoming a competent oyster shucker doesn’t happen overnight. It requires the right tools, a bit of technique and a bunch of patience. Here’s our official oyster shucking guide, to help you dig into Nova Scotia oysters like a pro!
1) The right tools for the job
Before the shucking begins, it’s important that you find the right tools for the job. This includes a clean rag or dishcloth, a solid surface (a wooden cutting board is perfect), a severing platter and a proper oyster shucker. Although there are many types of oyster knifes, we really like the style pictured above. The sharp tip allows for easy entry into the hinge of the oyster and the sharp edge makes severing the adductor muscle a snap. Some people also like to wear a glove while shucking to provide some additional protection. Gloves can range from a basic rubber dish glove to a stainless steel mesh glove. At the end of the day, having the right tools for the job will make for a much safer shucking experience.
2) Cleaning and positioning
Clean your oysters by rinsing them under cold running water and removing an grit or mud. Place the oyster between your folded rag or dishcloth with the hinge exposed. The hinge is where the oyster naturally opens and closes, and it is usually more tapered than the opposing end. Make sure the oyster is right side up, that is that the curve is on the bottom, and the side that is more flat faces up.
3) Making the insertion
With the oyster secured on a surface, within your cloth, in one hand use an oyster shucking knife to find the deepest crevice in the knuckle. With a decent amount of pressure, wiggle the knife into the space until the shell releases, then give it a twist to pop the joint open. Try to mimic the action of opening a doorknob. Be extremely careful during this step to avoid any accidents with your oyster knife.
4) Sliding the knife between the shells
With your knife fully inserted, slide the edge of the blade horizontally down the shell to sever the muscle that connects the oyster to the top shell.
5) The final cut
Remove and discard the top shell, then carefully slide the knife under the oyster as closely as possible to the shell, to sever the muscle from the bottom shell. Keep the oyster as level as possible during the process to not loose the liquor in the shell. The liquor is an important element in the oyster tasting experience. This briny liquid help to provide a true taste of the oyster’s origins – otherwise know as it’s ‘merroir’.
6) The finishing touches
Use your finger to remove any debris or shell that may have found its way in to the oyster.
A FEW MORE THINGS:
- If an oyster smells like the sea, it’s ready to eat. If it has a strong fishy or funky odor and it doesn’t smell like the others DO NOT EAT IT!
- Many purist will say that oysters are best enjoyed straight up, but they can also be eaten with a squeeze of lemon, various types of mignonette, cocktail sauce or hot sauce. For something a little bit different try this awesome Nova Scotia Oysters Rockefeller recipe.
- Nova Scotia has a growing number of amazing oyster producers throughout the province. Some of our favourites types are from: Eel Lake, and Bay Enterprises (Malagash).