Steps to becoming a better shucker
Shucking oysters is an art form that takes much practice to master. For professional shuckers there are many styles and techniques that can be used to enhance shucking speed and presentation. For example "Chesapeake stabbers" will shuck the oyster with the cupped shell facing down, flipping the belly meat on to the flat shell, letting the 'liquor' inside rinse any impurities from the meat. However, for the laymen shucker, just getting the shell open may prove to be hard enough without getting into nuances. Here are a few tips readers can employ to become better shuckers.
Always check if the "hermetic seal" that holds the shell tightly together is still intact, insuring freshness.
For rookie shuckers a glove or wet bar towel is a must to protect hands from the rough cold shells or if the knife happens to slip.
Place the oysters in the freezer for ten minutes before shucking, which makes them easier to open.
Give the shell a good once over with a tough brush to prevent foreign substances from getting onto the meat during the process.
If you are having a hard time "unlocking" the shell, use a flathead screwdriver to chip away some of the shell at the hinge to make a larger opening for the oyster knife.
Try to keep a steady hand so as not to spill the '"liquor" that gives the oyster its salty ocean taste.
Put the shucked oyster on a bed of ice and serve with the classic array of oyster condiments (lemon wedges, cocktail sauce, horseradish, hot sauce) but consider trying one without supplements to fully experience the natural taste of the oyster. You may find you like it more.
Keep on shucking!
Photos by Susan Safford