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The Market at River Falls | 301-765-8001
10124 River Road Potomac, MD 20854
10-7 Monday through Saturday, 11-7 on Sunday.

How to Shuck Oysters

Potomac Market OystersTo describe the flavor and the essence of an oyster is nearly impossible. Each oyster has its own incomparable taste and texture. Depending on where and how it is grown, its qualities will vary with notable nuance.

You may hear salty, sweet, buttery, briny, even earthy and every oyster lover can tell you why they have their favorites. In the oyster world, that is referred to as Merroir, the understanding that each oyster is impacted by the water it comes from and that its unique flavor is derived from its territory.

While some prefer their oysters steamed, grilled, roasted or fried, the main reason for shucking an oyster is to enjoy it raw. Before you taste, smell the oyster. It should not smell fishy at all, rather it should evoke the sense of a fresh ocean breeze.

While it’s fun to order oysters out, it can be very rewarding to shuck them at home. It’s a skill and your friends will be impressed. So, here are the basic and simple steps for you to get shucking.
First, you always want fresh, live oysters which you will find here at The Market throughout the year.
Fresh oysters should look well-hydrated with sea water, so toss any that stick to their shells.

Step 1- You need to start with a tool to open the oysters. Ideally, it should be a short knife. If you’re going to add this to your repertoire, it probably makes sense to purchase a good oyster knife because they have a guard around the blade to protect your hand from slipping. That said, a basic table knife or even a flat head screwdriver will work to get your started.

Oyster shells are sharp so you will want to use a kitchen towel or an oven mitt to hold the oyster. It’s juicy and messy so don’t use your favorite linen napkins!

Step 2- Hold the oyster with the flatter side up. The cupped side will hold the liquid. Look for the hinge where the shells are joined and find a spot on or near that hinge to slide the knife in and twist, popping open the shell. Some shells are harder than others so you may need to insert the knife a bit further to pop the hinge and remember to try and keep the oyster as flat as possible, so you don’t lose the liquid.

Step 3- Now that you have the hinge popped open you can slide the knife up along the shells. You’ll feel some resistance where the oyster is attached. Remove the top shell, and it’s best to run a sharp knife along the inside of the bottom shell to ensure the oyster is not attached to make for easier slurping.

Step 4 – You will want to serve them right away and can keep them nice and cold on a bed of ice. Fresh oysters can be enjoyed plain, with tabasco or a squeeze of lemon but our favorite is a classic mignonette of red wine vinegar, shallot & lemon.

If you are interested in pairings, we are happy to make suggestions from our selection of wine, bubbles and beer. We can keep it classic or get creative. Just ask next time you are here!