Oyster slurping pleasure worth shucking pain


If I told you I sustained an oyster shucking injury, you probably would assume I stabbed myself with the oyster knife, or cut a finger, or some other edgy injury.  But you would be wrong…

As you know from my last post, I decided to make a trio of seafood delights from Good Fish for my visiting relatives from Atlanta, and the second course was Oysters on the Half Shell with Cucumber Sorbet (pg 44).  I purchased 2 dozen of the little gems on my epic shopping trip to Uwajimaya, along with a shucking knife, ready to do battle for the very first time with these bivalves.

I watched Becky make this very recipe at a Dish It Up cooking class last year, including shucking the oysters, and I watched my friend Kate McDermott shuck a few dozen very efficiently at a recent book club.  I also watched Becky’s excellent how-to video a few times, so I was prepared!  And I certainly didn’t see anyone getting even slightly injured in the process.

However, in real life, these babies were harder to get open than I thought.  I would jab in the knife right at the opening near the hinge, as instructed, but often the shell would just chip.  So I tried again, harder, and thought I could muscle it open.  A few of them obliged me and popped open easily, but most required multiple attempts before they cooperated.  Waaaaaaay harder than I thought it would be.

Finally I got the gems (from Willapa Bay) all open and displayed nicely on a platter of rock salt, ready for the final dressing up with a small scoop of cucumber sorbet right on top.  Yes, you read that right – cucumber sorbet.  You can make the small batch with an ice cream maker or simply let it freeze in a container for a few hours, and it adds a crispy freshness to the briny, creamy oyster that is marvelous.

And don’t forget the “cherry” on top this bivalve sundae, which is a slice of candied jalapeno, which I whipped up in about 5 minutes, no problem at all.  That little sweet zing of spiciness rounded out the oyster beautifully and soon everyone was slurping them with delight.  A sauvignon blanc hits the spot with these babies, or you can quaff some pale ale, as we did.

Oh, the injury? Good, you are still paying attention!  The morning after the party, I headed to Pilates with a painful crick in my neck and right shoulder, obviously having slept in some funny manner on it.  I was telling my instructor that I’d be somewhat limited that day (always an excuse, Karen…) and then told her about my dinner party.  She asked what I cooked for everyone and then she burst into an enormous grin when I told her about the oysters.

“Did you shuck them yourself?” she asked with a knowing smile.  I responded rather proudly that I had done all the dirty work, and then the other shoe dropped.  Duh, my neck pain was from all the focused pressure on popping those oysters open, probably about 100 or so good strained attempts!  I never put those two things together and instead was cursing my squishy pillow for the neck pain; see I KNEW it would pay off to go to Pilates!  I’m getting smarter, not just stronger…

NEXT UP – The third dish of the party, cracking crab and dipping delight


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