Thursday, June 20, 2013

Blue Point Oysters On The Half Shell And How To Shuck Them

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There is nothing I love more than Blue Point Oysters.  Last week while I was marking time waiting for some lamps to be fixed, I stopped at Whole Foods.  This store is a pain in the neck for me to visit as it is far off the beaten path.  Much to my surprise it was smack across the street from the lamp store and I had two hours to kill.  Good news and bad news, for this is a place where I can really get in trouble.

After loading my cart to half full and then unloading three quarters of it (after a serious talk with myself)  I decided to revisit the fish counter where I had talked myself out of buying the oysters at least three times.    To begin with they would not shuck them, so I had to do it myself.  Secondly I had a long drive which was a major concern.  But I wanted those oysters really, really bad.

While I was in NYC last month I had dinner with my friends Reggie D. and Boy F. and we had the most delightful East Coast oysters I have had in a long time.  They were cold and fresh, as if they had just come out of the sea.  A memory like that stays with you for a long time, specially if you are an oyster aficionado like me.  One of the things I miss the most in this part of  Georgia is fresh fish and shellfish,  particularly lobster and oysters.   When I see them so close and yet so far because I don't know how to shuck them, it can be a major problem.  And these were Blue Points no less,  the cat's meow as far as I am concerned.





Now, don't let people talk you into ordering or buying the wrong thing.  The term Blue Point is often used loosely for oysters from the North Atlantic.  True bluepoints are raised in Long Island's Great South Bay where they were first found. There are others from the same genus, such as  "New Jersey bluepoints" and "Virginia bluepoints", but they are not the real Blue Points, although I'm sure they'll do in a pinch.

Luckily I had a really nice fellow at WF who took pity on me and showed me how to shuck the oysters with a special little knife they sell there.  Okay, I can do this.  If I can make a souffle I can shuck an oyster; and you know what,  I did it!!!





I encourage you to try it i only for the thrill of saying you have.  Think of all the money you'll save by purchasing them at the fish monger and serving them at home.  Can you imagine the face on your guests when you tell them you shucked then yourself!.  It really is a cinch, if you have the right tool.  Slide it where you see a little opening, usually towards the back, wiggle it until you get traction and pop!  Here's a video.  I did not have those fancy gloves, just my little oyster knife which I got a Whole Foods for $5 and a towel. Hold them like he shows you so you won't loose the juice like I did.





The guys packed them in ice for the ride home and I put them in the refrigerator until ready to eat.  Make sure you keep them very cold or they will start to open up.  You don't want that. 

The rest, as they say, is history.  I served them, to myself,  on crushed ice with some lemon and cocktail sauce.  That's how I like them.  I have never been able to eat them with a mignonette sauce.  I go into convulsions when the vinegar hits my nose, which can be quite embarrasing when you are in a nice restaurant.  Can you imagine if that had happened while dining with Reggie D? Even though he is on hiatus, I am sure a post would be forthcoming on how to keep your cool while your guest is chocking on  mignonette sauce.

Never pass up doing something you really want to do just because you don't know how.  Learn and  try it, if only for the experience.  You would be surprised at what you can do if you just put your mind to it.

Photos Lindaraxa
Oyster knife Google

 

9 comments:

  1. here in west marin
    it's hog island oysters
    tomales bay
    world reknown
    i know what you mean ~
    B

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    Replies
    1. Well, what do you know...must try them next time I am in San Fran!

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  2. I've come to being an oyster lover late in life. I would NEVER touch them and the only oyster I ever ate was in the Thanksgiving stuffing and only then not because I liked it but because it tasted of memories! And then one fateful day, a friend had some which HE had shucked and everyone was ooohing and aaahing over them and I wouldn't touch them . . . who would eat anything you didn't chew? And then because everyone was oohing and aahing, I got up the nerve to try one. And you know what they were good, they tasted of the sea. I ate a dozen that night and have loved them ever since. We have a friend who gets them here in the midwest -- often flown in and yes, he has had Blue Points. He shucks (he has both knife and glove)! But congrats to you -- it is always an accomplishment when you've done something you've never done before!

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    Replies
    1. Oh Martha, what you have been missing all these years...now you need to catch up.

      I was looking to order them on line from a reputable place in LI but minimum was 85 oysters and I don't think I have 10 friends I can gather here. I did consider the possibility of eating them all by myself which would mean 10 oysters for 8 days in a row, with the 9th day in the emergency room.I quickly scratched that out!

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  3. I got my oyster knife a zillion years ago in Paris... so it has great mojo. It is a trick to open the little buggers but once you know the trick, you are in. Very wise to have someone show you because instructions are not the same thing. Isn't it worth it? Don't you feel empowered?
    It was a happy flip of luck that WF was in the right place at the right time. Lamp fixed and desires satisfied!

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    1. Deana,

      I am as proud of being able of shucking an oyster as I am of driving a stick shift! Power to the people!!!

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  4. Linda, the history of the Bluepoint oyster is an important one. Many people recognize the name. As you say, the Bluepoint today is no longer from the original source. A Dutchman made them famous but did not invent them. Chesapeake Bay oysters were used early-on to help build the stock. It is a great story about the first man to really capitalize on American oyster popularity and quality. They all died off in the early 90's.

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    Replies
    1. Very sad indeed. I lived in Connecticut for 35 years starting in the 60's and we had lobsters, swordfish, oysters, clams and sole like it was the most normal thing in the world. Have you seen the size of the swordfish filets these days? they are babies! Same thing that happened with the whales. We just don't know when to stop.

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  5. Dear One: What a pleasure and honor it was to see you in New York during your visit, and to dine together on the fabulous oysters served at Crown that evening. I, as you do, adore oysters, and eat then at every opportunity. Last summer I bought a bag of them at our local farmers market, and brought them home to shuck and eat. I had never shucked an oster before, but I'd recently seen Melissa Clark's instructional video of how to do so on NYTimes.com. If you don't watch her cooking videos, you are in for a treat! I am addicted to hers, and also Mark Bittman's. In any event, Reggie did NOT have a proper oyster shucking knife, and proceeded to destroy an expensive Schenckels paring knife (broke the tip off it), and found the entire experience maddening and scary, and I ruined more oysters than I care to admit, and those that remained edible had been reduced to a pulpy mess! Did you know that NY harbor at one time had billions of oysters in it? People ate oysters like crazy in the 18th and 19th centuries here in NY, and it was a huge export business, sent 'round the world in barrels packed in ice. Oysters, when properly refrigerated, can travel thousands of miles and live on for weeks! Pollution did the business in, and oysters haven't been harvested in NY harbor since the 1910s I believe. I suspect there may come a time in our lives when edible oysters will become scarce in general, as they are particularly vulnerable to pollution and require cold water to flourish. So, eat up, my dear!! I certainly plan to... Fondly, your friend and admirer, Reggie

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