A Cheat Code for Shucking Oysters

oysters on a baking tray

If done right, shucking an oyster can look suave, sexy even. With a petite knife and twist of the wrist, the cemented-shut bivalve springs open. If done wrong, you risk splintering bits of shell into the flesh, mangling the meat, or even stabbing your palm. People opt for various safeguards, from wrapping the oyster in a dish towel to wearing work gloves. But the easiest (and fastest) method for shucking is a blast of heat.

In the Southeast, where I live, winter gatherings revolve around an oyster roast, a ritual of stoking up big fires and cooking oysters over a grill grate. I prefer to skip the outdoors altogether (hello, it’s cold outside) and rely on my oven’s broiler instead.

With over 500 degrees of encouragement, oyster shells part just wide enough to shimmy an oyster knife into the middle, pry apart the shell, and release the meat. It’s quicker and less messy than a fireside grill, so you can get straight to slurping.

First, source your oysters. Most folks I know get their oysters from local fish markets or direct from oyster farmers. If you don’t have the oyster farmer hookup, look for seafood vendors at your nearest farmers market or supermarket, or check out online purveyors like Island Creek Oysters.

Then, simply arrange a single layer of raw oysters, flat side up, in a roasting pan or on a sheet pan. Set the pan on a rack in the upper quarter of the oven and broil on high for 5–10 minutes. The quick cook time keeps the meat plush and juicy, unlike an outdoor roast which cooks slowly and often unevenly. By broiling them with the cup side down, the oyster essentially poaches in its own briny liquor, eliminating the need for any additional liquid in the pan.

The oysters will be hot yet tender, the same delight as a rare steak.

Photograph by Isa Zapata, Food Styling by Mieko Takahashi

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Author:Hannah Lee Leidy | Website:www.bonappetit.com

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