One of the coolest appetizers you can ever serve is oysters on the half shell with a fresh mignonette or horseradish sauce.

It’s delightfully seaside, refreshing and pretty darn epicurean — and not that hard. First, you’re going to want to visit our Fishmongers and buy some fresh oysters! Typically, we will have a variety that includes these popular oysters, but selection varies per store, depending on what comes in fresh that day!

  • Blue Point — Popular, mild oysters originally found in the waters off the town of Blue Point on Long Island’s Great South Bay.
  • Watch House Point — Salty upfront followed by hints of cucumber and melon. Grown on the historic Watch House Point oyster grounds located on the Eastern Shore of Virginia.
  • Kumamoto — Petite meats with a mild brininess, sweet flavor and a honeydew finish, cultivated primarily in Puget Sound’s Oakland Bay, WA, Humboldt Bay, CA and Baja, Mexico.

Buying Tips:

  • Ideally, purchase on the day you plan to serve.
  • Make sure none of the shells are open and won’t close when tapped.
  • Select approximately six per person, give or take an oyster.

Storing Tips:

  • You can store oysters in the refrigerator, cup side down, covered with a wet towel for no more than three days.
  • If you keep them over ice, be sure to change the ice frequently, because the melted water can kill a submerged oyster.

Testing Tips:
You can test to see if an oyster is alive by scraping a fork prong along the outside circle of its flesh. It should react by flinching/shrinking back. Fresh, live oysters will shine and should contain a good amount of liquor (the natural juice inside the oyster that keeps it alive once it’s out of the water). The liquor is actually considered a delicacy and should taste quite outstanding — super fresh. Note that it should be clear, not cloudy.

Sauces
These won’t take long, but you’ll want to make them prior to shucking so the oysters are as fresh, plump and buttery as they can be! We suggest wedges of fresh lemon and lime, freshly ground black pepper, plus fresh mignonette and horseradish sauces.

Gear Up
The right tools are an important part of shucking oysters safely and efficiently. You’ll want:

  • An Oyster Knife — We like the Victorinox 2.75” Oyster Knife. Compact and sturdy, it’s ergonomic, with a super-grip handle that is slip resistant even wet. Swiss made with a high carbon steel blade, it is dishwasher safe.
  • A Shucking Glove — Again, we go with the Victorinox Cutlery PerformanceShield Cut Resistant Glove. Comfortable, flexible and exceptionally durable, its reversible design fits either right or left hand. Not to mention the fact that it is cut resistant!
  • Crushed Ice or Rock Salt
  • A Deep Pan, Bowl or Platter — Fill with the crushed ice or rock salt to display post-shucked half shells.
  • Bag or Bowl — To discard shells as you shuck.

Shucking
It gets easier with practice, promise. First, make sure you have your bowl of crushed ice or rock salt and a clean towel to wipe any dirt off of the shells. Then, wearing the gloves…

  1. Rinse & dry the oysters.
  2. Grasp an oyster in one hand, cup-side down, inserting the knife in the hinge.
  3. Run the blade along the top of the shell to open the oyster.
  4. Repeat until you have opened them all and displayed them in a lovely layer on your ice/rock salt. It’s that simple.

NOTE: Oysters go marvelously well with an unoaked, more-mineral-than-fruit white like Muscadet, Sauvignon Blanc or a French Chablis. Champagne and martinis are quite acceptable, also!

Consuming raw or undercooked meats, poultry, seafood, shellfish or eggs may increase your risk of foodborne illness, especially if you have certain medical conditions.