ILLUSTRATIONS BY EDGAR STEWART
My restaurant job demanded that I learn to shuck oysters, too—a daunting task for a rookie garde-manger cook. I started out shaky, but the stress of having to shuck dozens of oysters mid-service slowly transformed into confidence, and shucking became second nature.
With a good oyster knife, this isn’t such a difficult task for the home cook, either. The first step is making sure to hold your oyster securely, flat side up, between the folded halves of a dish towel. With the knife pointed away from your other hand and wrist, insert its upwardly curved edge into the small opening where the two halves of the shell meet, and begin gently twisting and using leverage to urge the shell open. When it pops open, carefully slide the knife across the bottom of the top shell to cut the oyster’s muscle and fully separate the shells. Some oysters put up more of a fight than others, but thanks to the ergonomic design of the oyster knife, they will always lose.
LUKE PYENSON is a food and travel writer, recipe developer, food stylist and photographer based in New York City. You can see examples of his work at www.lukepyenson.com.