Nothing declares “It’s the weekend!” more boldly than a box of oysters showing up on your doorstep. Once, like lobster, these critters were the food of those who could afford no better. Now, thanks to the laws of supply and demand, sprinkled with lore about how they improve ones libido, oysters have become a prized delicacy. That box on my doorstep, a treasure chest of oyster gold!
What should you do if a box like this appears on your doorstep?
Firstly, do not judge a Tekiu Point oyster by its covers. These oysters definitely looked fresh. A “just plucked from the beach” look. A little disheveled on their exterior with bits of seaweed and smeared wet sand. These oysters were not gussied up as if they just stepped away from a food magazine shoot. That’s fine by me. You want oysters that taste good, not the Photoshopped version.
Secondly, grab an oyster knife! Oh, and a thick dish towel (I didn’t have one of those bullet proof mitts lying around for oyster shucking), and a large wooden board. You have now created the oyster shucking central.
I’ve slurped down many oysters, but this is the first time I had to personally shuck them. Admittedly, I do what most people do these days when confronted with a task they have never attempted, watch a video on YouTube.
No matter how many videos you watch, ultimately, oyster shucking is a contact sport and you must do it to know it. A couple of things I discovered having pried open 35 oysters in my maiden voyage.
It is important to have a good oyster knife. For those that have built or torn down anything will know, a good tool can be the difference between a fruitless struggle and a DIY conquest. This is true with oyster knives. Find an oyster knife with a handle made of a really hard wood and a sturdy steel blade with a nice tapered point. I like a wood handle over a smooth metal or plastic handle because you need a surface with some friction in order to twist the knife to pry open the oyster after you have snugly dug the point into the oyster’s hinge. Your hands will get slippery with oyster juice. Wood will still provide good friction.
The “pop” that happens when you get the angle and leverage just right to crack open the shell extremely satisfying. Perhaps this is also enhanced by the anticipation of what’s to come next.
Wiggle and make sure the oyster knife is nicely embedded in the hinge of the oyster before twisting. This is an important step. A halfheartedly wedged oyster knife will make the twist a struggle. How you enter is critical.
Finally make sure to angle upwards to cut the oyster meat from the top of the shell. You do not want to repeatedly stab into the flesh as you are trying to separate hard inedible shell from tender, succulent flesh.
Now that you have tasted victory, you need to make sure to share the bounty. Take a big platter and lay down a bed of crushed ice. You can even dress it up with a couple of lemon wedges on the side.
Nourished and encouraged by the success of prying open your first oyster, you must do it many more times.
One medium sized oyster has about 9 calories. If you do a fancy shaking of the booty while shucking the oyster, you may actually emerge calorie neutral from an oyster feast.
There is something comforting and primal about the whole experience of shucking and slurping down oysters.
Now you look around.
What could be better than a feast of fresh raw oysters that you have personally shucked yourself?
Well, I had the same thought.
The answer: a very special bottle of chardonnay from Grgich Hills. Its the 2003 Chardonnay to commemorate the 30th anniversary (1976-2006) of the Paris Tasting.
Like oysters, wines also need their special openers. In this case, I turn to my Rosle Stainless Steel Waiter’s Friend. There are many different designs out there for openers, but I like going with a classic in this case.
The chardonnay was a deep color, rich and complex, with great mouth feel. It was a perfect pairing with the fresh oysters. I am sure our wine expert Clint will write more. All I have to say is that after being in our cellar for 6 years, the results did not disappoint.
May your oyster adventure be met with as much fortune as ours. Cheers!