Do you eat oysters? Out of our house of 6, 5 of us do. One says they are filthy, mud suckers and wouldn't dare put one close to her mouth. At my mom's house, it's about half and half.
I find them to be delicious when roasted (or in stew, my daddy makes the best oyster stew). Since I was little, we have been getting bushels of oysters, loading them in pans with a little water, putting a lid on top and roasting them in the oven. Lately, it has been in a double steamer pot over a propane stand. I have also watched grown men dig, with the perfection of a mama sea turtle, a perfect hole into which they prepare hot coals then deposit their precious oysters, cover them with wet rucksacks and lovingly tend them for a few hours. Sounds a little tedious to me, of course I didn't tell them that whilst I ate their delicious bivalves!
So, to get me started back to blogging in the New Year, here is a little tutorial on how to shuck an oyster.
Step One: Prepare. Find an old rag and/or thick glove you can devote to only oyster shucking. Find a good oyster knife, my favorite is the little blue handle number with a short blade below. And maybe consider a full body bib. Because you will be splattered in oyster juice, possibly some mud, and maybe a few drops of cocktail sauce by the time this is all said and done. Oh yes, get a bottle of cocktail sauce or make your own. And saltine crackers.
Step Two: Pick up your oyster, grasp firmly with your rag or gloved non dominant hand. Grasp knife with your dominant hand. Insert your tongue in between your lips at the corner of mouth for greater concentration.
(sorry the photo is fuzzy, she was desperate to slurp it up)
Step Three: Dig in! If the oysters has been steamed properly there will be a nice crack to slide your knife in.* Pop the top off wipe knife clean on your rag and slide under the meat of the oysters, place thumb on oyster and cut from shell. Holding oyster between knife and thumb, drag through sauce (if you desire) and throw your head back. Drop the juicy guy in.
*If the oyster is stubborn and doesn't provide a nice gaping crack: Turn the shell around, insert the tip of your knife in the pointed-hinge end (See second photo). Twist, pry and dig until you see some progress. Sometimes you have to admit defeat and pass the little bastard to a more experience or more persistent shucker. I say "oh well" and grab the next one.
Step Four: Repeat until satisfied. I didn't say full, because in my thirty something years of shucking and eating oysters, I have never gotten full on oysters. Something about the ratio of small bi-valve meat to calories burned while shucking. It's like exercising while eating...maybe it's the new diet trend.
I hope this little tutoiral has been helpful. To round it out, I will provide a few "facts" about this little boogers.
- Oysters can be safely harvested and eaten in months with the letter "r" in them. I prefer to not eat them the first of last month of the season. This time was considered safe because of poor refrigeration during olden days as well as the fact that oysters are weakened after spawning in the summer/hot months and not as tasty.
- Oysters spawn in the summer months, so when you are swimming around in that warm water you are swimming in oyster sperm. Yippee!
- Oysters after they are fertilized are free floating, they then develop a foot and explore the sea floor for 2-3 weeks sans home.
- Oysters are bi-sexual at first, then male then the next year female. Go figure!
- Oyster shells that are shucked should not be thrown away but recylced...return shells to an oyster recycling center or close to where you harvested them. Oysters most productive place to latch on is on another oyster shell, so a nice big pile of them is even better.
- Oysters from different regions can have distinctly different flavors, from sweet to salty to musky to a light flavor reminiscent of cucumber. If you have a chance try a sample platter from The Oceanaire Restaurant, Do It!
Okay, go out and shuck. I expect a report on your endeavors as soon as possible!