I'm not quite Boss Tweed yet, who allegedly downed about 150 oysters in one sitting, but, I'm slowly getting there. Every Wednesday morning you can find me tasting my way through the farmer's market in Santa Monica. This is my happy place where I go to check out what's in season and have my pre-breakfast oysters. Yeah, I get strange looks for this morning ritual but that cold ocean taste and shot of B-12 wakes me up better than the strongest cup of coffee. This new habit has grown from morning snack to evening indulgence (it's only $10/dozen, how can I not indulge?) where I have to shuck them myself. Luckily, no fingers have been lost or stabbed...yet, but I'm pretty slow and careful, nowhere near Bill Lowney, the 1885 oyster shucking champ who opened 100 oysters in 3 minutes and 3 seconds. I dare you to pick up and set down that many oysters in that time, let alone shuck them. I think I'm coming at 20 seconds per oyster, so...yeah. Not a shucking champ. If you're going to be eating raw oysters, always taste your first one unadorned, just to get a true sense of its flavor, texture, and oystery loveliness. From there, go crazy! I included three of my favorite raw oyster recipes below. Get shucking!
By the way, if you're wondering where my nerdy knowledge on bivalves is coming from, it's a combination of Mark Kurlansky's fascinating The Big Oyster: History on the Half Shell and the knowledgable Geography of Oysters by Rowan Jacobsen. Buy them, read them, and then go eat some oysters.
Cover your hand in a kitchen towel, and hold the oyster in this hand. Have the hinge (what looks like the back of the oyster) facing out. Take your oyster knife
and wiggle it into the hinge. Don't force it, it should go in pretty easily. If it's difficult, try moving the knife to the side a bit to get a different angle. When it's in, twist the knife to pop the hinge, and the shell, open. Slide the knife against the top of the top shell to slice the abductor muscle. Remove the top shell, and slice the bottom abductor muscle under the oyster. I then like to flip the oyster so it looks pretty in the shell. Flick out any loose shell. Hooray! You've shucked an oyster, now eat it.
Watermelon, Lime and Sake
Lemon and Tapatio
Oysters with Sake, lime and finely chopped watermelon. Make sure to pick a dry sake, I prefer the Junmai style ones.
Ponzu and Sriracha
This was recommended to me by a shucker: Ponzu and Sriracha. You can buy ponzu in the Asian aisle at your market, or make your own by combining the following:
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice, more to taste
1/4 cup fresh lime juice, more to taste
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup dry sake
1 tablespoon honey
Whisk together the ingredients in a bowl and let it sit in your fridge over night. Strain. The ponzu will keep for at least several days in your fridge. Enjoy!
A very California combination. The Tapatio has that lovely vinegar kick, but you can use any hot sauce you like. Squeeze a little lemon on top (just a few drops) and a shake of the Tapatio.