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Shuck em yourself and you’ll know they’re fresh.

Shucking oysters is something every Chef has done at some stage. When I was initially taught we were always taught to go in from the back, or pointy end of the oyster, aka the hinge end. As this is my practiced way to do it, it is also my favourite. However every time I walk through the Sydney fish markets I see the pros and when I say pros that is exactly what these guys and gals are, they can shuck a few dozen oysters in the time it takes me to do a few oysters. These pros shuck from the front of the oyster or rounded end of the oyster, aka the non-hinge side. So having said that, in this demonstration I will walk you through my ‘from the back’ technique and then you can have a look at the professional ‘from the front’ technique and you can decide which works better for you. In either case please be careful and use the proper equipment. Proper equipment includes a solid non-slip work surface, a high quality oyster shucking knife and a shucking glove. In this demonstration we have used a towel in place of the shucking glove, however if it is your first time shucking we do recommend that you get a glove instead of the towel.

  1. Lay the folded tea towel on the surface.
  2. Place the oyster with the flatter side up and the pointy end towards your shucking hand.
  3. With your gloved hand, hold the oyster firmly down, (in this demonstration case we have held it down with another tea towel).
  4. Slip the knife in between the upper and lower shell.
  5. Push and pry until you get an opening.
  6. Holding the knife flat against the underside of the top shell, slide the knife around the shell until you’ve made it to the other side. In doing this you will cut the ligament that holds the top shell on, it will require a bit of muscle.
  7. Pry the top shell off and discard it.
  8. Run the knife under the oyster and cut through the ligament attaching it to the shell.
  9. The oyster is now free and ready to eat at its freshest. The liquid within is often referred to as the oysters liquor and should be enjoyed along with the oyster.
  10. Although this is the best and most delicious way to eat it, the reality is that you may have some shell fragments in your oyster and may want to rinse it. If so, quickly rinse it in salt water brine and return it to the shell.
  11. Most oysters are served upside down in the shell as it present a little neater and is also conveniently the result of the shucker flipping it as he or she cuts the ligament underneath, but this is largely a personal preference and you may prefer the more organic look of the oysters original position in the shell.

Paul Hegeman

Paul is a personal Chef to exclusive Sydney clients and is also our most frequently contributing writer. Paul was born in The Netherlands and moved to Canada at a very young age.

Experience with traditional European meals at home and the diverse multicultural influence of foods in Canada gave Paul a great appreciation for different culinary styles. Over the years Paul traveled extensively and worked at every level of professional kitchens, from the deep fryer in the local burger joint, to the Head Chef in Five Star Hotels.

He now resides full time in Sydney, Australia with his wife and their children. You will find his recipes emphasize natural, uncomplicated flavours and fresh ingredients such as those found in Mediterranean and South East Asian cuisines.

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