Nothing works to cheer you up on this deplorably rainy day like having oysters for lunch. To add to the excitement, I decided to shuck them myself for the first time in my life. I can now proudly say that I can shuck oysters. It was a bit tricky at first, but on my third oyster, I finally got a hang of it (at least I thought I did until I switched oyster types). Here are the oysters that I tried:
Duxbury -- sweet and briny, very easy to open
Wellfleet -- very briny, a bit harder to open
Blue Point -- moderately briny, very hard to open
I splurged on an oyster knife from Captain Marden's in Wellesley (where I picked up the oysters). They had some for $9 and some for $15. I asked the fishmonger about the difference. He said that the $15 one is harder and won't bend (he opens 300 oysters a week and he only broke it once). After trying to open a dozen oysters, I am glad I got the better knife. Oysters a freaking hard and stubborn!
To rinse or not to rinse
Oyster purists think it's criminal to rinse an oyster to get rid of grit. I am in no rinse camp for almost everything (chicken, beef, pork, fish, etc), but I really hate grit. As it turns out, the oyster is a bottomless pit of briny liquor, so if you since it and let it sit for 5 minutes, the shell will fill back up with all that yummy brininess. I am not sure if what I did was "correct," but it seemed to work without any negative side effects.
Very little grit -- try wiping it off with your finger.
Moderate amount of grit -- pull the oyster to the side of the shell and pour off the liquor. It will refill itself in 5 minutes.
Lots of grit -- rinse the oyster and shell (it seems easier to do before cutting the oyster off the bottom shell to avoid dropping it into the sink). Put the oyster back in the shell. It will refill itself in 5 minutes.
Here is a video of Rich Vellante from Legal Seafoods showing you how to open an oyster. I must have watched at least 5 and found this one to be the most useful.