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Oyster Tips: How to Open an Oyster

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Oyster Tips: How to Open an Oyster
Photo Kathy_kthypryn / Flickr

In most restaurants, oysters will come to you already on the half-shell. But true aficionados will want to do the opening themselves. Here’s how to open like a pro

World Oyster Opening Champion Xavier Caille can open 30 oysters in 2 minutes 40 seconds. But he’s been practicing for up to 28 years. «Practice and patience,» is his motto, so don’t expect to be breaking any world records just yet.

First, you’ll need to make sure your oysters have been stored correctly. Native oysters should be kept in a cool place, rounded side down so that the oyster juice doesn’t run out. Then you must make sure it is tightly shut. This means it’s alive, fresh, and unlikely to make you ill once you’ve eaten it.

You’ll need an oyster or shucking knife, which has a short, stubby blade no longer than 2 or 3 inches long. If you’re worried about stabbing yourself, you might want to use a glove, but usually a thick kitchen cloth will do.

Wrap the cloth around the oyster and grip it firmly in the palm of your hand. Have the hinge or narrow end of the oyster sticking out. Take the knife in the other hand and go in at the hinge. Use enough force for the knife to penetrate the oyster, then twist or lever the blade gently upwards until the shell becomes detached from the hinge.

Slide the blade underneath the upper part of the shell to cut the muscle, and remove it from the oyster. Then go back and remove any bits of cracked shell from the flesh. Slide the knife underneath the oyster to release it from the bottom half of the shell, so that it’s easier to slip off the shell and into your mouth. And there you’ll find ample reward for all that effort.

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