If you’re an oyster aficionado, here’s how you know it. Any time you’re near any city that’s anywhere near any water, you’re all about the raw bar. You can’t help but crave many somethings that are fresh and salty, spicy and lemony. You find yourself Googling away, trying to locate the nearest Happy Hour—and not of the cocktail variety. The difference between Atlantic and Pacific is never about the geography but rather the taste of your favourite aphrodisiac.

Yes, oysters are the ultimate love food, and that’s why this Valentine’s Day—and actually, all year round—you need to be guzzling them by the dozen to make everyone happy.

So here’s our gift: We’re bringing this delicacy home to you. Ready to enjoy a night shucking oysters and making a platter of sexfood? Thanks to this handy guide from the incomparable Chef Zach Albertsen (of The Forth restaurant in Toronto), you’ll never need to wait to satisfy that special craving again.

HOW TO SHUCK YOUR OWN OYSTERS

Chef Zach Albertsen of the Forth in Toronto Shucking an OysterHow to Shop for Oysters
Many fish mongers or larger grocery stores will have a good selection of fresh oysters for you to choose from. Be sure to ask how fresh the selection of oysters are. Some mongers will open one up for you so you can check the quality of the oyster yourself. Things to look for when checking the quality of an oyster: Taste the water that the oyster is sitting in. It should taste like the deep sea. The oyster should also smell of the deep sea. If it smells rotten or overly fishy, the oyster isn’t good. Certain breeds are good for eating raw and traditionally shucked. Malpeque, Kusshi, le belon are good choices that are usually readily available this time of year. Buy them the day of, or the day before you’ll be enjoying them. When it comes to oysters fresh is best. Once you’ve taken them home, keep them in the fridge until they’re ready to shuck – but never freeze them!
What You’ll Need
An oyster shucking knife. Just any knife won’t do. Most grocery stores or fish mongers will carry them. Look for one that’s nice and sharp and feels good in your hand. If you’re new to shucking, be sure to also have a small hand towel ready. You’ll need it to protect your hand and avoid accidents!
How to Shuck Your Own Oysters at HomeThings to Prepare in Advance
Have your plate or serving dish ready and filled with ice to place the oysters on after they’ve been shucked. Also, be sure to have any garnishes or accompaniments ready to go beforehand. You’ll want to enjoy the oysters as soon as they’ve been shucked. To clean the oysters, run them under cold water and give them a light scrub to get rid of any dirt or debris that may still be on them. Be careful never to soak the oysters in water! Believe it or not, oysters can actually drown in tap water as they’re used to sea water.
How to Shuck
  • Step 1: Insert tip of shucking knife into the back of the oyster in between the shells. Use the knife to lift the top shell from the bottom shell, concentrating only at the back part of the shell. Be careful. This is the step that most people have accidents with. Feel free to wrap your hand in a hand towel to avoid injuring yourself.
  • Step 2: Slide the shucking knife towards the front of the oyster and separate the inductor mussel from the top and bottom shell.
  • Step 3: Remove the top shell of the oyster.

How to Shuck an Oyster

By BrazenWoman

Raw bars are where it's at these days. But why go out when you can get your mollusk fix at home? Follow these easy steps, courtesy of Chef  Zach Albertsen of The Forth in Toronto, and shuck your own.

  • Tool of the trade

    By BrazenWoman

    You'll need a good shucking knife. Your local fish-monger or a good grocery store will have them. Also, have an absorbent bar towel handy.

  • Step 1a

    By BrazenWoman

    Insert the tip of the shucking knife into the back of the oyster in between the shell halves. 

  • Step 1b

    By BrazenWoman

    Use the knife to lift the top shell from the bottom shell, concentrating only at the back part of the shell. 

  • Step 1c

    By BrazenWoman

    Be careful. This is the step where accidents can happen. Feel free to wrap your hand in a towel to avoid injuring yourself.  

  • Step 2

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    Slide the shucking knife towards the front of the oyster and separate the inductor muscle from the top and bottom shell. 

  • Step 3

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    Remove the top shell of the oyster.

  • Step 4

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    Smell the oyster to make sure it's fresh. It should smell of the deep sea and have lots of natural juice/sea water in the shell. Discard if it smells at all funky.

  • Step 5a

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    Separate the muscle of the oyster from the bottom shelf while being careful to keep all juice inside the shell. 

  • Step 5b

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    Now the oyster is loose from the shell. 

  • Step 6

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    Place on ice and enjoy immediately with your favourite fixings. 

  • Step 4: Smell the oyster to make sure it is fresh. It should smell of the deep sea and have lots of its natural juice/sea water in the shell. If something smells funky in a bad way, the oyster has probably gone off. Make sure you discard it.
  • Step 5 Separate the muscle of the oyster from the bottom shell while being careful to keep all juice inside the shell. Now the oyster is loose from the shell.
  • Step 6 Place on ice and enjoy immediately.
How to Create a Raw Bar at Home and Shuck Your Own OystersSuggested Garnishes (these are classic accompaniments)

  • fresh squeeze of lemon (my personal favourite)
  • freshly grated horseradish
  • tabasco
  • mignonette (see our Champagne Mignonette recipe below)

Suggested Drinks

Pair with champagne or white wine, or a very light lager or cider (my favourite way to enjoy oysters is with a pint of Guinness!)
RECIPE FOR CHEF ZACH ALBERTSEN’S CHAMPAGNE MIGNONETTE
  • 1/2 cup champagne vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons shallot, finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Whisk all ingredients together and serve. 
The Ultimate Guide to Creating Your Own Raw Oyster Bar A young American chef who cooked in Wisconsin, Chicago, Denmark, and Thailand before coming to Toronto, Zach spent time at Momofuku and Canoe before landing at The Forth as Sous Chef when the contemporary Canadian resto opened on the Danforth earlier in 2014. The Forth celebrates Canadian cuisine, local wines, craft cocktails, modern decor and seamless dining experiences.

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