Looking to bring the raw oyster bar experience to your own home? Surprisingly, it’s not as intimidating as you may think. Provided that you track down a good seafood supplier and sharpen up your shucking skills, recreating the half shell experience will be easy, affordable, and so much fun! It’s also great if you’re hosting a party and want to create something really impressive. After all, little looks more impressive than a platter of gleaming, fresh oysters.
Here are some tips for preparing and eating raw oysters at home.
Buy Your Oysters
East Coast oyster farmers are your go-to for finding the freshest oysters at the most reasonable price. You shouldn’t pay more than $1 a piece for East Coast oysters. West Coast are slightly costlier, at up to $2 per piece. Although you can source them at your local supermarket, local farmers have the added advantage that they can tell you exactly where your seafood is coming from. Supermarkets, on the other hand, often cannot. If you’re seeking the most authentic at-home oyster experience, go with the farmers. On the downside, farmers only have a small selection of oysters to offer. With up to 150 types to choose from, you’re going to find a wider selection in supermarkets.
Some tips for those who buy oysters over the counter:
- Ask to handpick them and select the heaviest ones.
- Check that the oysters are alive by tapping the shell. If an opened shell won’t close when you tap it, that indicates the oyster is dead.
- Ask to sample one to ensure it is fresh.
Store Your Oysters and Gather Your Tools
Oysters must be stored in the refrigerator and covered with a wet towel. Try to avoid keeping them over ice, as fresh water can kill them.
Meanwhile, gather your equipment so you can start preparing your raw oyster platter. You will need an oyster knife and a shucking glove (a kitchen towel will also work). As for the presentation, you’ll also need crushed ice or rock salt, and a deep plate or platter for serving.
It’s good to get all this ready before shucking. Why? Because great oysters are freshly shucked oysters. So, leave the shucking until you’re ready to serve.
Now Get Shucking those Oysters
Shucking oysters is easy once you get the hang of it. And once you know how to shuck, hosting raw oyster parties at home can become a regular thing. Like with most things, it gets easier with practice, so don’t be put off if it seems a bit tricky at first.
This guide should help you out with getting started:
- Clean the shells thoroughly with cold water prior to shucking. Especially if you want to make a nice presentation, dirty shells just ruin the aesthetic.
- Put on your shucking glove or wrap the oyster in a kitchen towel to protect your hands.
- Holding the flat part of the oyster shell upwards, insert your shucking knife in the hinge and twist until it opens.
- Use the knife to release the oyster and place on your serving tray over ice.
Choose a Dressing and Serve
Raw oysters have a wonderful flavor of their own. However, if you’d like to dress them up a little, you can choose from an array of fancy sauces. The most popular toppings include lemon juice, cocktail sauce, mignonette, and hot sauce.
Then you can simply grab an oyster, slurp down from the wide end and chew once or twice before swallowing. It’s heavenly!
Don’t Forget the Wine
It may not be a rule of oyster eating, but a complementing wine can certainly enhance flavors, both ways. To draw out the salty, mineral qualities in East Coast oysters, pick Chablis or another wine with similar attributes. Sancerre and Chardonnay are other great matches.
Because West Coast oysters have a slightly sweeter taste, fruity wines accompany them best. Spanish Albarino and Pinot Grigio are perfect pairings for the West Coast oysters.
For a truly classic and authentic experience, pair raw oysters with champagne. It’s delicious with any type of oyster.
Come and See How It’s Done!
For over a century, Woodman’s has been satisfying seafood cravings in Essex. For fresh and delicious seafood catering, call us at 800-649-1773 and we’ll make sure your menu is packed full of your favorite foods – including freshly shucked raw oysters!