Oysters are one of those things you either love or hate. I’m an oyster lover and decided I wanted to learn how to shuck them so I can enjoy them at home. A quick internet search led me to Starfish and a return email from the owner Patrick McMurray (aka Paddy). The power of the internet led me to find out that Paddy currently holds the Guinness World Record for most oysters opened – 38 oysters shucked in under a minute. With that info, I was convinced I would be in expert hands and turned a solo lesson into a girls night out on a Monday.
Seven ladies gathered with glasses of wine within reach and our lesson started with a platter of oysters and learning about 5 varieties and their look, feel and taste.
The most popular Malpeque oyster is from PEI and is available at most seafood restaurants and some grocery stories. Next we tried the Jersey Rock, a Pacific oyster from Jersey rock England. The Kumamoto from Washington (originally from Japan) is a noticeably smaller oyster but the shell is cupped. I found this was sweet and the tastiest of the group for me. The European flat from Ireland are known for their smooth and flat shell and have a meatier texture.
The fifth species we tried was the Olympia oyster from Puget Sound Washington that can be hard to come by. Bigger than the Kumamoto but still a small oyster, they are sweet and metallic and considered a species at risk. It takes five years to grow, there are only two growers in the world and both are located in North America (Puget Sound and B.C.) The growers are regulated.
With refilled wine glasses, we were equipped with a shucking puck, cloth and specially designed knife by Paddy and instructed on the delicate are of opening the shell and not slicing into your hand. I was nervous but managed to succeed without injury. Note to self – don’t get distracted by conversation and keep your eyes on the oyster while trying to ply it open!
After our lesson, we went back to eating and drinking but Paddy challenged us to a “Shuck n’ Suck contest”. We paired up in three groups and were timed on how long it took one partner to shuck two oysters and the other sucking them back. Let’s just say, what happened at Starfish stays there but there may be video evidence.