While I love, love, love raw oysters, I confess to an initial fear of trying them at home. I'm not sure what magical incantation or special training I thought happened at oyster bars, but there was something complex about the process, and for years, I dismissed oyster home love as too intricate for my skill level.
That changed last weekend. I saw oysters for sale at my fish store, and thought "How hard could it be, really?" (It's important to credit Kinky Friedman for that phrase. It was his campaign slogan when he ran for the Texas governor position. Think about that for a second. It's okay to laugh.)
So, I tackled oysters in steps. First, I bought knives. I bought them at LeRoux Kitchen
, home of the best balsamic vinegars in the state, and I also came away with some good advice. I'd intended to buy a protective glove, too, but it turns out, they do not recommend them for oysters. The preference is to anchor the oyster on a counter, wedged between a folded dishtowel. This improves stability and lessens the possibilty of contamination.
My knives cost about $8 each. I bought two.
Then, I bought oysters. I picked the tightest, cleanest shells I could find. Although I transported them in an ice-filled bag, I removed the ice when I got home. Oysters are living creatures, and they do just fine in a loose paper bag in the fridge.
Then I researched mignonette. Turns out, it's basically shallot, vinegar, and pepper. Sugar, too. I substituted sweet onions for shallots. Interesting fun fact: Acidic tastes, like lemon or vinegar temper salty tastes. It's why mignonette or lemon is a great oyster pairing.
And then the cocktail sauce. For this, I am a purist. Tomato ketchup and fresh horseradish. Mmm.
And then, the moment of truth. I'd like to say that I grasped oyster shucking expertly on the first try, but that's not true. It's not rocket science, but it does take a bit of practice. There's a curved side to the oyster and a flat side to the oyster. Fold a dishtowel around the oyster, with its curved side down. (This creates a little bucket to slurp from, and it gives a space for the oyster liquor.) Wrap the dishtowel tightly, so only the hinged part of the oyster is visible. Brace the wrapped oyster against the counter, insert the knife into the joint, and just start wiggling it around. It's okay if some of the shell chips.
Eventually, the oyster will open.
And then this happens.
Challenge: What sounds too difficult to tackle in your own life? Why?