We picked up a 50 PEI oysters while up in Maine on vacation and enjoyed almost every single one. Buying oysters wholesale or retail means you can get them cheap. They usually sell for around $1/piece while in restaurants they are usually around $2-3.00/piece. Eating oysters at a restaurant is expensive, and while buying them and shucking them means you save yourself some money, you do need to put a little - or a lot - of effort in.
Shucking oysters is easy. I know a lot of people are intimidated by it, but it's a lot easier than it sounds and it gets easier with practice. Plus, I saved around $100 (plus tax and gratuity!) by doing this myself. And, it also ensured that I had the freshest oysters I could get.
We enjoyed the oysters with a bottle of 2010 Bonnet-Huteau Muscadet that I picked up from my favorite wine shop, Central Bottle. I told the sales assistant that I wanted a wine to compliment the oysters - and they delivered. The crisp wine was a wonderful accompaniment.
How to Shuck an Oyster
Remember to keep the oysters cold at all times and to use an oyster knife for the best results. Shucking oysters can be quite messy, so I recommend doing it outside - at least until you get the hang of it.
1. clean the oysters with a brush, removing all dirt, and rinse with cold water. this step is one of the most important, because as you shuck the oyster and run the knife along the shell, you will avoid bringing dirt or sand into the oyster
2. wrap oyster with a towel, to protect your hand*, and place firmly on a steady surface
3. find the hinge of the oyster. here, you will be able to insert the tip of your knife
4. insert the tip of your knife into the hinge and slowly add pressure while twisting the knife slowly from side to side (this is the way I do it, everyone is different)
5. be gentle, but firm and try to pop the shells apart. sometimes the area where you have pointed your knife will start to crumble and fall apart. try moving your knife over to a new section, or cleaning the area and starting again
6. once the two shells have separated, slowly run your knife down the middle**
7. cut the oyster free by sliding your knife under the oyster to cut the muscle that keeps it attached to its shell, while managing to keep the juices in the bottom shell
8. slurp the oyster and enjoy! I prefer freshly squeezed lemon or hot sauce on my oysters.
*some people use a glove or oven mit during this step. the more protection for your hand, the better. getting a oyster knife through your palm is not fun
**another reason to thoroughly clean your oysters, if there is any surface dirt, you will bring it into the oyster during this step
*** don't mind my hair in the above photo