How To Shuck Oysters
How to Shuck Oysters: If you are an oyster lover, you have to learn how to shuck oysters at home! Throw an oyster shucking party and serve raw or steamed oysters with all of the best oyster toppings, while sharing how to shuck oysters properly and safely.
Why You Should Learn How to Shuck Oysters
One of our favorite summer activities is to invite friends over for an oyster-shucking party.
We discovered several years back that the kids love to shuck and eat oysters just as much as the grownups! Well, at least ours do. It is always worth a shot!
Once you know how to shuck oysters, you can have an oyster-shucking party where everyone chips in! It is so fun, and such a creative excuse to have a get-together! As long as your guests love oysters, this is an activity they will get excited about.
Serve the oysters with a variety of different toppings! Try cocktail sauce, fresh lemon wedges, and horseradish. Or, make a simple French mignonette!
Although we love oysters raw, baked, grilled, or steamed, I find steaming them is the optimal method for an oyster shucking party.
Here’s why… Raw oysters have the absolute best natural flavor. They taste like the sea. Yet, many people can’t get over the fact that they are raw. Plus, raw oysters can be a little difficult to shuck.
On the other side, grilled oysters often have a nice smoky flavor, and baked oysters usually have tasty toppings, but you lose the essence of the oysters when they get rubbery.
I find steaming oysters for a very short time offers the best of both worlds… Those that like raw oysters get nearly raw oysters that are much easier to open, because the oyster has released its grip on the shell. Yet, those who like their oysters cooked, find the bottom-of-the-pot oysters texturally more substantial.
Ingredients You Need
- Raw Oysters – buy raw, live oysters
- Baking Soda – for cleaning
- Your choice of condiments and toppings
Equipment You Need
- Oyster Knife – otherwise known as a shucking knife
- Kitchen Towel – a sturdy kitchen towel to wrap the oyster while shucking
- Vegetable Brush – to clean the outside of the oysters
- Steam Basket – to easily steam them in the pot
- Stock Pot
How To Clean Oysters
- Try to bring fresh oysters home the day of your party. As with all seafood, the fresher the better. Check the oysters and throw away any that are already open. Remember, oysters are alive and will be clamped tightly shut. If they are slightly open and don’t close when you tap on them, get rid of them!
- Then place the oysters in a large tub and add 2 tablespoons baking soda. Fill the tub with cold water and let the oysters soak for 10-15 minutes.
- Use a firm vegetable brush to scrub the outside of each oyster. Sometimes I have the kids do this. Yet sometimes we skip the scrubbing, lay them out on a picnic table, and spray them down with the hose.
How to Steam Oysters
- Place a large stock pot with a steaming basket on the stove. Fill with 1-2 inches of water. Make sure the water level is well below the bottom of the steam basket. Cover the pot and turn the heat on high. Bring to a rolling boil.
- Once boiling, quickly fill the steamer basket with oysters and cover. Set the timer for four minutes. Once the four minutes have passed, quickly uncover and dump the oysters out into a large bowl. Repeat with remaining oysters if needed.
That’s it! Your oysters are perfectly steamed and ready to shuck and eat.
The oysters from the bottom of the pot will be the most cooked and easiest to open. The oysters at the top of the pot will be just barely cooked (the way I like them) with just a touch of texture around the edges, yet raw in the center. Everyone at the table will be able to find the perfect oyster for their taste.
Now it’s time to set out the condiments and start shucking.
How To Shuck Oysters
- Give each person a clean tea towel and oyster shucking knife. (Do not try to use regular knives. You could potentially hurt yourself and/or ruin your knives.) Place the oyster in one hand on the folded towel. I recommend using your non-dominant hand to hold the oyster with the towel.
- Look for the natural hinge in the oyster. Insert the tip of the oyster-shucking knife into the hinge and firmly dig and twist and wiggle your way to make an opening.
- Once the oyster shell is open, wipe the edge of the knife on the towel. Then run the edge of the blade by sliding up under the oyster to release it from the shell. You will have to pry it open!
- Place the open oysters cup side down on a large tray or platter to serve. Each person can grab the oyster they like and top it off with the condiments!
Carson, age 10, shucking oysters.
Raw Oyster Condiments
There are so many ways to accentuate your oysters, it’s fun to set out an oyster condiment bar and let your friends and family experiment. If you prefer, you can totally keep it simple with just a squeeze of lemon juice. Or, top the shellfish off with loads of toppings! Here are some of my personal favorites.
The Classic American Oyster Setup
Classic French Mignonette
- Red Wine Vinegar
- Shaved Shallots
- Salt and Pepper
Bold Asian Oyster
- Sriracha Sauce
- Lime Wedges
- Pickled Ginger
- Fried Onions
- Rice Crackers
Modern American Oyster
- Baguette Slices
- Lemon Wedges
- Chopped Chive
- Balsamic Vinegar
- Spicy Whole-Grain Mustard
Frequently Asked Questions
To buy oysters, head to your local grocery store or fish market and find fresh oysters in the seafood section. Fresh oysters should be stored with the cup side down and chilled on ice! They should smell of the sea breeze, and not a strong fishy aroma. Once you get them home, store them in the fridge in a container, making sure to keep the oysters with the cup side down to retain the liquid. Cover with a towel, so that they can breathe. If you store them in an airtight container, they will die. It is best to use them on the day you buy them!
One indication is the smell. Oysters are going to smell like the ocean, but not of a strong fishy smell. Since oysters are alive, you will want to make sure that you don’t get any dead oysters in the mix. If they are tightly closed, they are good to go. If you see an oyster that is open, tap on it to see if it shuts. If the oyster doesn’t shut upon tapping it, then throw it away.
No! This is important, you need a shucking knife to properly and safely shuck oysters. A kitchen knife or butter knife won’t do the trick, and you will probably ruin that knife in the process.
No, shucking oysters is not dangerous! In fact, my kids often help me with this. You have to take proper precautions like using a sturdy kitchen towel and proper shucking knife. You can also use cut-resistant gloves for extra protection if you have them on hand!
No matter how you like to top your oysters, this easy summer party idea is fun and tasty for everyone involved.
More Seafood Recipes to Try
How To Shuck Oysters
- 40 raw oysters
- Baking soda, for cleaning
- Your choice of condiments
- Place 1 inch of water in a large stock pot and place a steaming basket into the pot. Cover and place over high heat.
- When the water comes to a boil, fill the pot with oysters and cover. Set the timer for 4 minutes. Once the timer goes off, immediately take the lid off and dump the oysters into a serving bowl.
- Give each person a clean tea towel and oyster shucking knife. (Do not try to use regular knives. You could potentially hurt yourself and/or ruin your knives.) Place the oyster in one hand on the folded towel. Look for the natural hinge in the oyster. Insert the tip of the oyster shucking knife into the hinge and firmly dig and twist.
- Once the oyster is open, wipe the edge of the knife on the towel. Then run the edge of the knife under the oyster to release it from the shell.