Oysters on the Half Shell


by: Cawfee Lady

It is hard to improve on what may be natures most perfect food. Few foods—caviar; sea urchin roe—capture the pure briny essence of the sea better. When serving raw oysters on the half shell, you can’t shuck them by heating them first. You must open them ram; or ask the clerk at the fish market to do it, if you are serving them within a few hours. Shucking takes practice and a strong will to combat the tenacity of the oyster. If you are not yet skilled at it, get your guests involved. While disturbing to many who fear washing away the oysters’ essence, oysters should be rinsed after shucking. They then release a second round of liquor.


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serves: 4






Nutrition Facts
Oysters on the Half Shell

Servings Per Recipe: 4

Amount per Serving

Calories: 0

  • Total Fat: 0 g
  •     Saturated Fat: 0 g
  •     Trans Fat: 0 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg
  • Sodium: 0 mg
  • Total Carbs: 0 g
  •     Dietary Fiber: 0 g
  •     Sugars: 0 g
  • Protein: 0 g

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1.  Insert the tip of an oyster knife into the hinge at the pointed end of the oyster that holds the oyster shells together and twist. This may take several attempts until you find the right spot, but once you find it, you will feel the top shell give way. At this point, wipe off the oyster knife with a towel so you don’t get grit inside the oyster, and then slide the knife along the underside of the top shell, pressing firmly and keeping the knife flush with the shell so you don’t damage the meat. The top shell will come away. Next, hold the oyster—still attached to the bottom she|l—under a slow, steady stream of cold water while running your finger around under the meat. This rinses out any grit. In French restaurants, oysters are served still attached to the bottom shell (a way of ensuring they haven't been shucked in advance and just scooped into shells), but it is easier on your guests if you slide the knife under the oyster to detach it from the bottom shell. Keep the knife flush with the bottom shell, so the tasty little abductor muscle stays attached to the oyster, not the shell.

2.  As you shuck the oysters, put them on plates or a platter covered with cracked ice or seaweed. Don’t put them on coarse salt, which gets everywhere, especially in the oyster. You can serve the usual condiments—lemon wedges, hot sauce, vinegar with a little chopped shallot and cracked pepper in it (mignonette sauce)—but purists usually eschew them all.

Cooks' note:
Little can be done to improve a raw oyster, but you can top them with dollops of caviar, sea urchin roe, or a single drop of Pernod.

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