Do You Know the History of Oyster Shucking?

Written by Molly Moltzen

At Reel Seafood, we love oysters — and we are lucky to have some of the best oyster shuckers in the area to put them on your plate! However, oyster shucking is not just a method to a delicious meal, it has a very interesting history as well.

For those who may not be familiar with the term, shucking is the act of opening an oyster and severing its meat from the shell so it can then be consumed. When oysters first began to gain popularity in the United States during the 1800s, shuckers were in high demand for the oyster bars popping up all over the country. Back then, at some oyster bars, a person could have all-you-could-eat oystersfor less than 10 cents. At these institutions, the oyster shucker was expected to not just be friendly and personable with the patrons, but to also watch out for the restaurant’s interests as well. If a patron was consuming too many of the endless oysters, the shucker would often slip them a dead one — in the hope they would get sick and stay away from the bar for a while!

Today, oyster shucking is not only a restaurant art but a competitive endeavor too. Oyster shucking began as a sport in 1954 in Ireland and, since then, has expanded into huge international competitions held around the world. Most recently, in May 2018, there was even an oyster shucking competition event that took place at the Great Wall of China!

So, what is the best technique when shucking an oyster? Having the right tools — mesh gloves, a good oyster knife, a stiff bristle brush, a tray of ice to set the oysters in, and at least one towel — is essential. First, rinse the oyster under cool water and brush it off to remove any sand or grit from getting into the final product. When opening it, be sure to never tilt it or flip it on its side — otherwise, you risk losing some of the delicious juice it contains. When sliding your knife around the oyster, it is important to be firm but gentle as to not chip the edge of the shell.

Luckily, you can skip all the hassle of shucking yourself by coming to Reel Seafood! Click the link above to make a reservation and enjoy our famous raw bar tonight.

Article by Molly Moltzen

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