I was feeling a bit on the adventurous side today and decided to pick up some live oysters from Wholefoods. I purchased 3 Blue point and 3 Fanny bay oysters, a lemon, and some cocktail sauce, as well as a shucking knife, and headed home to try my hand at shucking. The first thing to do with oysters is scrub them with a stiff brush under cold water. This removes and debris and general gnarliness that may be hanging onto the outer shell. With my oysters now nice and clean, it was shucking time! I read that it helps to use a towel to hold onto the oyster (and help protect your hand when your knife inevitably slips), so I folded up a kitchen towel and then folded it again over my first oyster (flat side up).
Now before you shuck this lil guy, you want to make sure he’s still alive (insert PETA petition here). A quick sniff test and a once over to make sure the shell is still closed is generally about all this takes. If the shell is slightly open, you can give it a quick tap with your knife. If it’s alive, it should close it’s trap with a quickness. Alive, check! To shuck an oyster, you “simply” place the tip of your knife into the small opening along the hinge, then work the shell open by twisting the knife until the end sort of “pops”, then work the knife along the rest of the shell to completely remove the top-half. Once the shell is open, it’s just a matter of a quick swipe of the blade along the top, then bottom half of the shell to release the oyster. To serve, leave the oyster in the rounded half of the shell with all the liquor (see also oyster juice, see also sea-water).
For my first go-round, this went pretty well. Unfortunately, despite my best efforts (and my semi-functioning right hand) I was not able to get a single one of the Fanny Bay oysters to open. All three of the shells were close firmly and completely, and after cracking the shells to the point where I could no longer open them without a hammer, I gave up, tossed them in the trash can (tear)m and simply enjoyed the Blue Points. So I guess instead of oysters on the half-shell, this was more like oysters on the half-can… Hopefully, next time, with a bit more strength and control in my “good hand” I’ll be able to be a bit more successful.