Opening an Oyster

HATCHERY TO PALATE

Opening an Oyster

 

Opening oysters, also referred to as 'shucking'  requires skill.  The preferred method is to use a special knife (called an oyster or shucking knife).  This knife has a short, thick blade approximately 5 centimetres (cms) in length, and a pointed end.

While varying methods are used to open an oyster (this often depends on the type of oyster being opened)  the following is a commonly accepted oyster shucking  method :

  1. Wearing a heavy duty glove, hold the oyster with the hinge facing downwards towards your wrist
  2. Using a shucking knife (or similar) insert the blade, with moderate force, between the two shells approximately 1 to 1.5 cms from the hinge.  This may require gently rocking the blade backwards and forwards to push the tip of the blade between the shells
  3. Once inserted, twist the blade until there is a slight 'pop'
  4. Slide the blade upwards and around the shell ensuring the blade is pushed against the inside of the top shell to cut the abductor muscle away from the top shell
  5. Remove the top shell
  6. In a similar manner, the blade of the knife should be inserted under the oyster and slid around the bottom shell to sever the abductor muscle away from it. By pushing the blade downwards towards the inside of the shell will minimise damaging the oyster
  7. Once the oyster has been separated from the shell, use the knife to flip the oyster over
  8. A quick, light rinse under water, and the oyster is ready to be consumed

 

Heavy duty gloves should be worn when opening oysters as injury may occur should the knife slip, or from the sharp edges of the shell itself.

If the oysters have particularly soft shells, the knife can be inserted approximately half way along one side where the oyster shell 'lips' widen with a slight indentation.