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Oysters baby, OYSTERS!


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Being that oyster season is coming into full swing soon, I though we can discuss the "Art of the Oyster".

I know there a few out there that oyster rule their lives. I have only recently been exposed to a plethera of oysters and am slowly learning about their delicacies.

I have even come to appreciate the art of shucking an oyster.

I have shucked my share, but it wasn't until recently that a friend showed me the "proper" way. The careful way of precerving the full shape of the meat.

In the past, I would be content in opening it, not concered of the apperence of the meat.

But now, I know that it's so important.

Last week I went to a popular late night restaurant and we ordered a couple dozen and they came to the table looking all mangled and broken. Even though they were fresh, the membrane was torn, the meat all twisted. Not the succulent, juicy, perfect oyster I have learned to love.

Can anyone relate? Am I becoming a "snob"? Is it so hard to ask for a properly shucked oyster? Or is this a valid demand?

I even worked in a place in Montreal that wanted all the oysters shucked ahead of time!!!!! And in retrospect, before I knew anything about oysters, this is amazingly appalling. They would sit for hours on ice, pre-shucked, before they were served.

So for future reference, if you go to a certain restaurant that starts with the letter "V" in Old Montreal, don't order the oysters.

This weekend I have a case of Oysters for Thanksgiving. Have to practice what little shucking skills I have.

Pictures to come.

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No, you are not an oyster snob!

I have been a professional oyster shucker for close to 20 years now and when I see the way that the oyster is served in most places across this country, it makes me wonder why people eat them at all.

Punctured stomachs, mangled gills, ripped mantles, shell, grit and dirt all combine to make an otherwise delectable experience unbearable.

If you are located in Montreal, the only place to go for them is Joe Beef.

The staff there were trained by one of the best in the business, John Bil, 3 time National Oyster Shucking Champion.

Their knowledge and handling of the product is top notch as well as the quality and selection of oysters they carry.

Stay away from Globe as I got to see their shucker in a competition earlier this year and he should be ashamed to call himself a professional.

Keep on shucking

Oyster Guy

"Why then, the world is mine oyster, which I with sword, shall open."

William Shakespeare-The Merry Wives of Windsor

"An oyster is a French Kiss that goes all the way." Rodney Clark

"Oyster shuckers are the rock stars of the shellfish industry." Jason Woodside

"Obviously, if you don't love life, you can't enjoy an oyster."

Eleanor Clark

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If you are an oyster snob then I must declare myself one as well.

Anywhere I dine, if oysters on the half shell are on the menu, that is what I order for an appetizer if not for an entree. I despise oysters that are full of bits of shell or look as though the restuarant has had an employee pre-chew my oyster.

I recently purchased oyster knives and have set about teaching myself how to shuck. No, I am not fast. I would starve if I had to feed myself from oysters I have shucked. However, there was not a single piece of shell in the first batch I attempted and that was delightful.

A good tip from James Peterson's Fish & Shellfish cookbook: After removing the top shell, but before cutting the oyster from the bottom shell, run the oyster under lightly running cold water to wash out grit and shell. The oyster, since it is still partially attached, will then refill the shell with salty, liquid goodness.

Preach not to others what they should eat, but eat as becomes you and be silent. Epicetus

Amanda Newton

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Please don't run the oyster under cold water to rinse the shell and grit out!

This totally removes the oyster liquor from the shell and washes the taste of the bay from the oyster.

All you have to do is before you sever the adductor muscle on the bottom is to lift the oyster from the hinge area gently and clean the shell that might have been forced in when you were opening it and run your fingers along the mantle (dark rim of the oyster) to remove any bits of new shell growth.

The mantle is the part of the oyster that forms the new shell and there is usually a thin sliver of shell present.

And oyster shucking, when done well, is a combination of sport and artistry.

Keep on shucking

Oyster Guy

"Why then, the world is mine oyster, which I with sword, shall open."

William Shakespeare-The Merry Wives of Windsor

"An oyster is a French Kiss that goes all the way." Rodney Clark

"Oyster shuckers are the rock stars of the shellfish industry." Jason Woodside

"Obviously, if you don't love life, you can't enjoy an oyster."

Eleanor Clark

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Please don't run the oyster under cold water to rinse the shell and grit out!

This totally removes the oyster liquor from the shell and washes the taste of the bay from the oyster.

All you have to do is before you sever the adductor muscle on the bottom is to lift the oyster from the hinge area gently and clean the shell that might have been forced in when you were opening it and run your fingers along the mantle (dark rim of the oyster) to remove any bits of new shell growth.

The mantle is the part of the oyster that forms the new shell and there is usually a thin sliver of shell present.

And oyster shucking, when done well, is a combination of sport and artistry.

Keep on shucking

Oyster Guy

No running under water, agreed. But i was taught to clean them out as you describe, then let them sit for 15 minutes so that the "deuxieme eau" that the previous poster referred to can well up. i shucked a dozen for lunch a few days ago, using this method and i enjoyed juicy, briny, grit-free oysters.

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Please don't run the oyster under cold water to rinse the shell and grit out!

This totally removes the oyster liquor from the shell and washes the taste of the bay from the oyster.

All you have to do is before you sever the adductor muscle on the bottom is to lift the oyster from the hinge area gently and clean the shell that might have been forced in when you were opening it and run your fingers along the mantle (dark rim of the oyster) to remove any bits of new shell growth.

The mantle is the part of the oyster that forms the new shell and there is usually a thin sliver of shell present.

And oyster shucking, when done well, is a combination of sport and artistry.

Keep on shucking

Oyster Guy

No running under water, agreed. But i was taught to clean them out as you describe, then let them sit for 15 minutes so that the "deuxieme eau" that the previous poster referred to can well up. i shucked a dozen for lunch a few days ago, using this method and i enjoyed juicy, briny, grit-free oysters.

In my past experience, if I shucked them ahead of time and let them sit for even 10 minutes, they dried up just not as juicy as a freshly shucked oyster.

But id could have done that because of my awful shucking job.

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I gathered that the sitting and waiting preceded the severing of the adducter muscle--but, since I have absolutely zero experience with shucking, I might be completely off base. Wouldn't that preserve the juice?

Life is short. Eat the roasted cauliflower first.

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I don't let them sit after or before shucking the adductor muscle as the oyster instead of becoming juicier becomes smaller in the shell and changes appearance as well.

I can tell the difference between a preshucked oyster and a freshly shucked one just by looking at it as the preshucked one is smaller and shrivelled.

It really has no effect as far as the oyster liquor goes that I have ever noticed.

Besides, you want to eat it while it is still alive not dead and gone.

That way, you are absorbing the life force of the oyster which explains the rush you get when eating them :laugh:

Keep on shucking

Oyster Guy

"Why then, the world is mine oyster, which I with sword, shall open."

William Shakespeare-The Merry Wives of Windsor

"An oyster is a French Kiss that goes all the way." Rodney Clark

"Oyster shuckers are the rock stars of the shellfish industry." Jason Woodside

"Obviously, if you don't love life, you can't enjoy an oyster."

Eleanor Clark

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Got a case of oysters over the weekend from Joe Beef. Mostly to practice my shucking skills, or the lack there of.

I think I have figured out how to shuck it properly, with minimal breakage.

Let me know if it looks good.

It looks a million times better than a lot of restaurants I've been to in the city...IMHO.

gallery_40398_2637_10064.jpg

gallery_40398_2637_92797.jpg

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It wasn't until I spoke with Patrick McMurray from Starfish Oysterbed & Grill in TO (a former shucking champ that Oyster Guy knows as well) that I gained an appreciation for oysters. He is so passionate about oysters that if you are lucky enough to get him going, you will learn nearly everything you need to know. If you are not in the neighbourhood, check out "shucking 101" under the shucking link on their website (they have designed the page so that the URL does not change regardless of where you are in the heirarchy of the site, so I can not direct you directly to it) with step by step instructions on how to shuck and tasting notes for the different varieties:

Starfish Oysterbed & Grill

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  • 2 weeks later...
Got a case of oysters over the weekend from Joe Beef. Mostly to practice my shucking skills, or the lack there of.

I think I have figured out how to shuck it properly, with minimal breakage.

Let me know if it looks good.

It looks a million times better than a lot of restaurants I've been to in the city...IMHO.

gallery_40398_2637_10064.jpg

gallery_40398_2637_92797.jpg

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Looks like you're doing very well.

I'll be back at Joe Beef on November 17th and 18th (I helped out on the bar for the first few months of their life last year...), if you feel you need any more shucking advice.

John

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