Shucking Oysters

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Method

Live native or European oysters are traditionally available in any month containing the letter V. Farmed Pacific and American oysters are sold throughout the year. Only buy ones with tightly closed shells and keep in a bowl covered with a damp cloth in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Open the oysters only just before serving or cooking.

Oysters are usually eaten raw, served on a bed of crushed ice with lemon wedges, and either hot pepper sauce to sprinkle on top, or horseradish or Worcestershire sauce. Allow 6-8 oysters per person.

Cooked oysters are usually served on their bottom shell with a sauce or breadcrumb topping. Grill or cook in the oven at 220°C, 425°F, Gas Mark 7 for 2–3 minutes until the edges curl back but the centre is still soft.

  1. Hold a well-scrubbed oyster in a thick cloth, flat side up. Stick an oyster knife, or short-bladed knife, into the hinged edge of the shell, and twist to prise open.

  2. Still holding the shell firmly, cut through the muscle and lift off the top shell, taking care not to spill any of the liquid inside.

  3. Slip the knife under the oyster to separate it from the lower shell, and flip it over still in the shell, if liked, to show the smooth side.

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