It’s Valentine’s Day and you know what that means: oysters! If you’re not into sickly-sweet Hallmark holidays, then I now declare February 14th Shuck Your Own Oyster Day. Oysters are a delectable treat you can share with your loved ones or, if you want, it can be just you and a dozen perfectly shucked oysters. Actually, that kind of sounds appetizing; sometimes it’s hard to share.
I like oysters and I like them raw, but I’ve never shucked an oyster before. Most of my oyster eating experiences are in restaurants, so it was kind of exciting to pick up some oysters to try shucking them myself.
I bought a dozen BC Little Wing oysters from Whole Foods, which is fast becoming my favourite place to go to for seafood. The fishmongers are all really friendly and knowledgeable. I overheard someone asking about the oysters and the dude just started picking through them and identifying them by sight. The varieties were all mixed up and he was just going through identifying each one.
The Little Wing oysters were on sale for Valentine’s day and they were sweet, fresh and delicious. The fish dude said that they were similar to kumamotos, which are sweet and buttery.
If you’re planning to shuck your own oysters and top them with something, you should have your toppings ready before you start to shuck. That way your oysters stay nice and fresh in the fridge while you blunder your way through your first one (or five, in my case).
For the garnishes, I decided on kimchi puree and pickled Asian pear and black pepper. The kimchi puree is made just the way it is for the brussels sprouts: put kimchi in blender and puree. The Asian pear pickle is finely chopped and mixed with a bit of pickling juice and pepper.
Shucking sounds really simple, but it took me an absurdly long time to get it right and I got plenty hot in the process. All you do is take your oyster knife and put it into the hinge and turn it. Simple, right? I read through Chang’s instructions 7 times and watched a youtube video, but even still, Mike shucked the first oyster and had to show me how it was done.
After I figured it out, I monopolized the oysters, not letting Mike shuck any more. I used a little paring knife to separate the oysters from the shells, but nearer to the end I found it easier to use the oyster knife.
I’m not the world’s greatest oyster shucker, but I am a great oyster eater! The toppings were nice, but not mind-blowing. Personally, I think the best ways to enjoy fresh oysters is naked.
Oysters are a juicy treat: fruity, sweet, and refreshing. Once you know how to shuck them yourself, you just do it as you go. That’s what we ended up doing, shucking on the counter and popping them in our mouths kind of like sunflower seeds; pop them open and then pop them in.