How to open oysters

How to open an oyster


Opening an oyster can be a challenge. It requires craftsmanship and a sense of how to do it.

Championships in oyster opening are held. Here, well-esteemed chefs try to open as many oysters as possible in the shortest possible time. In France, national championships are held, where 100 oysters are to be opened on time. The winning time is usually between five and six minutes.

Few are able to open oysters so quickly, but most can learn the technique if they try and practice.

To open an oyster, you first need an oyster knife and a tea towel. The oyster knife should be used to wiggle the oyster's top shell loose, while the tea towel should be used to hold the oyster firmly. At the same time, the tea towel shall protect the hand against the oyster knife.

Take a good grip on the oyster with the tea towel. Make sure the hand holding the oyster is covered by the towel. The flat side of the oyster should face upwards. Press the oyster knife in between the upper and lower shell at the pointed end of the oyster. At the tip of the oyster is a small inner 'hinge', which the oyster opens and closes with.

If you get a real grip, the hinge opens with a small 'plop' and the oysters are ready to open. Otherwise, gently twist from side to side until the shells begin to detach from each other.

Once the knife has entered between the two shells, it is carefully lowered along the edge of the oyster. If the upper and lower part sit well together, it may be necessary to use force.

Separate the shells and loosen the upper part from the lower one. Remove any remnants of shells from the oyster and cut the oyster free at the bottom. Pour off the water.

If necessary, turn the oysters in the shell so that the oysters' 'interior' is hidden. Then the nice side of the oyster will be visible.

Not all oysters are equally easy to open. It depends on the type. The Pacific oyster - the deep oyster - is clearly easier to open than the European oyster - the flat oyster. You shall not start with the last one when you try to open your first oyster. Then you risk losing heart!


selling oysters

Selling oysters at Le Bon Marcè in Paris