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How To Open Oysters

Whatever shucking method you use, start by scrubbing the oyster shell clean under cold, running water (never let oysters sit in fresh water), and keep the oyster cupside down to retain the juice. Always wear heavy gloves in case the oyster knife slips.

Microwave Method

For the novice, and easier way to open oysters is via the microwave oven. Put six oysters on a plate, cover with wax paper and microwave at full power for 55 seconds. Let them sit in the microwave oven, power off, for another 15-20 seconds and remove. The meats won't be cooked, only warmed, and the shells more amenable to opening by whatever method you choose. Once opened, chill before serving.

Oven Method

When oysters in the shell are suddenly exposed to extreme heat, they will automatically open their shells. Place half a dozen oysters in the shell in a pie pan and put the pan in a hot oven for a few minutes. Remove quickly and you will see their shells have opened enough to insert a small sharp knife. Probe gently on the inside upper shell and cut the muscle from the shell. Pry off top shell. Then cut the muscle from the lower shell. If you want to serve the oyster on the half shell, quickly place them in the refrigerator with the oyster meat still in the lower shell. Chill 15 minutes before serving, and the oyster will be fresh and delicious.

Stabbing or sticker method

  1. With the left hand, brace the oyster on a non-slip surface, flat side up, with the widest part of the shell or "mouth" facing you. The hinged end should be backed up against a stop of some sort.
  2. With clockwise and counterclockwise twists of the wrist, work the point of the knife between the leading edges of the shells until it penetrates slightly.
  3. With the seal broken, insert the blade fully. With the left hand, pivot the oyster sideways so the knife severs the upper abductor muscle or "eye".
  4. Turn the oyster over with the same motion of the left hand and cut the bottom abductor muscle close to the point of its attachment to the shell.

Hinge method

  1. Grasp the wider end of the oyster in the palm of the left hand, cupside down, with the hinge end pointed towards you.
  2. Press the point of the oyster knife firmly into the hinge, rotating the knife with clockwise and counterclockwise wrist movements. The upper shell should pop open.
  3. Cut the upper abductor muscle by sliding the knife between the shell and the meat.
  4. Move the knife under the meat to cut the bottom abductor muscle; remove shell fragments.

Side Knife Method

  1. Grasp the oyster in the left hand, cupside down, mouth towards you.
  2. With thumb extended on blade to within 1/4 inch of the tip, curved tip facing downward, place the knifepoint on the outer edge of the shell as shown; wiggle the point between the two shells.
  3. Push the blade in over the meat to server the upper abductor muscle. Remove the top shell and shell particles.
  4. Turn the curved tip up and pass it under the meat to sever the bottom abductor muscle.