How to pick out, shuck and prepare oysters like a pro
Shellfish like oysters can be a little complicated to prep at home. So we talked with celeb chef Marc Murphy to get you his best tips, tricks and recipe ideas that will make you an oyster bar rock star in the kitchen.
When you go to the market to buy oysters, check for freshness. Make sure they are alive but fully closed.
There are so many varieties to choose from (Pacific, Eastern and Olympia are just a few). How do you know which are best?
Chef Murphy suggests that you go with the oysters that don’t have “jet lag.” He prefers to serve East Coast oysters in his New York City restaurants Ditch Plains and Landmarc because he wants to have the freshest oysters possible. When looking for oysters at the market, you want to go with the oysters that are local and have the least amount of travel time.
1. Rinse your oysters thoroughly under cool running water.
2. Place your oyster rounded side down on a towel, and fold the towel partially over the oyster, leaving the hinge side uncovered.
3. Sever the hinge by pushing the tip of an oyster knife (or other short, sturdy knife) into it and working it around until it releases. This will take practice.
4. Sever the muscle holding the shell together by fitting the (freshly cleaned) blade crosswise between the shells and working it from the hinge to the other end.
5. Discard the top shell. Cupping the bottom shell in one hand, sever the muscle that attaches the muscle to the inside. Be careful to not tip the shell and lose that delicious liquor.
Once you’ve shucked your oysters, now comes the fun part: preparation.
Raw: You can keep things simple and serve your oysters raw. Murphy says he loves eating his raw oysters with a squeeze of lemon or a little vinaigrette called a mignonette on them.
To make a mignonette, all you’ll need to do is combine rice wine vinegar, minced shallot, grated ginger and black pepper. Drizzle over your fresh oysters, and you have a fresh and flavorful appetizer — it’s that simple.
Cooked: If you want to try something a little out of the box, Murphy suggests this cooked oyster recipe that is just phenomenal. Slice pieces of baguette thinly, top with oysters, add a compound butter of garlic and parsley to each oyster, and roast them in the oven. The oysters cook, and the butter melts, spilling onto the bread, making an irresistible recipe. “As far as cooked oysters go, this recipe is fantastic,” says Murphy.
You can also make that same recipe right on the grill during the warmer months. If making a compound butter is a little out of your comfort zone, Murphy suggests substituting the compound butter with barbecue sauce, then grilling your oysters — it's the perfect warm-weather appetizer.
Grab a beer, and enjoy your oyster recipe options.