Proper oyster preparation is important whether you plan to cook your oysters or eat them raw. Like any other shellfish, oysters need some special care to taste their best.
Do not be afraid to ask the fishmonger when the oysters were harvested. If they are more than four days old, pass on them. Are they stored on ice? If not, do not even consider it. Oysters should be alive when you buy them unless they are already shucked and frozen. Oysters that are tightly closed are alive. If the shell is open, it should close quickly if the shell is tapped. If it does not, it should be discarded. Do not buy any oysters with broken shells.
If you will not be cooking the oysters immediately, clean the shells off with a kitchen brush. Place the cleaned oysters in a bowl and cover it with a damp towel. Put it in the coldest part of your refrigerator.
Oysters will keep this way for 2 or 3 days, but you should cook them as soon as possible. If you shuck the oysters first, store them in their own juice in a covered dish in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. If you cook the oyster in the shell and it does not open, toss it. Do not store live oysters in an air tight container. They need air flow to breathe.
To make shucking the oysters easier, pop them into the freezer for about an hour. It relaxes the adductor muscle so you can open the shell easier. When you remove them from the freezer, let them rest for a few minutes before you try to open the shell.
Clean the shells before you open them. Use a clam knife to open the oysters. Hold the oyster firmly in one hand while you slide the blade between the top and bottom shell. You can use a heavy glove or a towel in the hand you hold the oyster in to protect yourself from being cut by accident. Once the knife is inside the oyster, twist to open the shell. Do this over a bowl so any juice that comes out is retained.
Open the shell all the way. Use the knife to detach the oyster from the top shell. Slide it under the oyster to detach it from the bottom. Your oyster is now ready for cooking. Be sure to strain the liquor that was reserved in the bowl in case any broken bits of shell fell into it. You may want to use this for cooking the oysters, storing them, or serving them.
Freshly shucked oysters can also be frozen with their juice in an air tight container. Thaw them overnight in the refrigerator for the best results.
Oysters can be boiled or simmered for about 3 minutes, or just until the edges begin to curl for a tasty treat. You can also fry them for 3 minutes at 375 degrees F. or broil them for 3 minutes about 3 inches away from the heat source. If you prefer baked oysters, heat your oven to 450 degrees F. and let the oysters cook for 10 minutes.
Picture, recipes and/or content upgraded: 01-23-16
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