Yankee Kitchen: Shucking Oysters
Purchase oysters from a reputable seafood seller. The fresher the better, so ask when they were harvested and avoid oysters more than four days old. Look for oysters that are tightly closed and displayed on ice.
At home, give them a good scrub and store them over ice in the refrigerator, either in a mesh bag or loosely wrapped in a kitchen towel. Do not place them directly on the ice — the fresh water will harm them.
1. Scrub oysters well and rinse them with cold water. Lay a thick kitchen towel in the palm of your hand and place an oyster on top, cupped side down. Hold the oyster firmly and keep it flat. Insert an oyster knife into the hinge of the oyster — the U-shaped place at the narrow end where the top and bottom shell meet.
2. Keeping the knife flat, push it into the oyster (you may have to use a slight rocking motion) until the flat guard of the knife stops. Keep the oyster still and twist the knife until you hear the hinge pop. Remove the top shell by carefully scraping the oyster from it. Be careful to keep the liquid in the bottom shell, and try not to cut the oyster meat. Discard the top shell.
3. Slide the knife under the exposed oyster meat to separate it from the bottom shell, again being careful not to lose the liquid or cut through the meat.