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Selecting and Preparing Oysters

Oysters

When choosing oysters it's important that the oyster shells are tightly closed and not broken. Discard any oysters with even a small slit opening. Next, scrub shells well with a brush and rinse thoroughly.

It helps to have a good, blunt oyster knife, and you might want to wear gloves for protection.

Soak the washed oysters in cold water seasoned with medium-grain sea salt (about 1 tablespoon per dozen oysters) for about 30 minutes. Soaking in fresh water robs the oysters of their briny flavor. The oysters are ready to be opened after they begin wiggling in the water. Place the oysters in a tub of ice, then pluck them out one by one to be opened.

Hold the oyster with the curved bottom side in the palm of your hand (the top side is flat). Insert the knife into the hinge and gently rock it back and forth to pry open the oyster and cut the hinge. Before tearing off the top shell, gently scrape off the abductor, the muscle that opens and closes the shells, attached to the top shell. Avoid puncturing the oyster meat. Be careful not to spill the liquid, as some consider this the finest part of the oyster.

Next, gently place the knife under the oyster and sever the abductor on the bottom shell. Place oyster shells on a bed of ice and prepare or serve immediately.

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