Oyster Shucking - How to Shuck Oysters
There are essentially two basic ways to shuck oysters, the lip shucking style and the hinge shucking style.
This method of oyster shucking is also called “Bill Shucking” or “Stabber Style Shucking”. It involves entering the shell through the outer lip by the abductor muscle. First the upper abductor muscle is cut, then the knife is slide under the oyster to cut the lower abductor muscle. It is best to use a thinner, smaller oyster knife such as a Chesapeake Stabber. The advantage of lip shucking is that it requires less force and is safer because it avoids all the heavy prying, pushing and twisting which hinge shucking requires. The disadvantage is that it damages the shell, making it unsightly for presentation on the half shell. It also tends to leave more shell debris in the meat of the oyster.
The lip shucking oyster style is also commonly recommended for European (Belon) Oysters and Olympia Oysters. This method is especially useful for shucking brittle shelled Pacific or Eastern Oysters such as those cultivated by the suspension tray method.
Hinge shucking is probably the most common and popular method of shucking, especially in restaurants, because it leaves the bottom shell, or cup, intact. Enter the oyster through the hinge at the back of the shell by placing the point of the knife into the hinge. Move your knife around until you find the groove or notch into which your knife slips the deepest and “grabs an edge”. We are talking about maybe 1/16th of an inch here, it is where your knife fits the tightest. Now twist your blade and the top shell will pop. Do not push and force your knife, as this will result in piercing the oyster meat, and maybe the palm of your hand as well. Once you have popped the shell, move your knife along the top of the shell until you reach the abductor muscle and cut it. Now do the same thing to the bottom of the abductor muscle.
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