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Some Pearls Of Wisdom: How To Shuck And When To Eat Oysters

If you order oysters at a restaurant, how do you know they’re fresh? And can you only eat them during months that have an “r” in them, as the saying goes?

Here & Now‘s Peter O’Dowd gets a primer on oysters from Matt Louis, chef and owner of The Franklin Oyster House in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

3 Pearls of Oyster Wisdom from Matt Louis

1. Geography affects taste.

“The local ones, the New Hampshire ones are very briny, very bright and mineral. The ones from the West Coast tend to have sweeter notes of cantaloupe or honeydew melon, a little bit creamier. You also do get differences even on the same coast, they just tend to be a little more subtle but they’re there.”

2. Oysters are fresh when they’re closed.

“If the oyster’s open, then it’s immediately bad, you know right away. If that thing’s closed, you’re good to go. Once you shuck it, you see the liquid, with a beautiful sheen. The ultimate test is the smell … barely there, just subtle, a little bit of salty ocean.”

3. The key to shucking is finding the sweet spot.

“Every single oyster has this back hinge, and in this back hinge there’s this very small spot – I like to call it the sweet spot, sometimes you can’t even see it. I always tell everybody when I’m teaching them to shuck, if you’re forcing it, you’re doing something wrong – stop immediately. Once you’re in there, then all it is, is just a little turn of the knife. You always just have to find that one spot.”


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Peter O'Dowd prepares to shuck an oyster at the Franklin Oyster House. (Emiko Tamagawa/Here & Now)
Peter O'Dowd prepares to shuck an oyster at the Franklin Oyster House. (Emiko Tamagawa/Here & Now)

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