According to most etiquette rules, slurping your food (and eating with your hands) at the table is a big no-no. But when learning how to eat oysters, those established table manners can be thrown out the window. Whether you’re at a coastal seafood shack or a five-star restaurant, oysters demand to be eaten with your hands. And unlike other shellfish and crustaceans, oysters can (and should!) be eaten raw. Here’s how to eat those freshly shucked oysters the right way.
What are oysters?
Oysters are shellfish (bivalve mollusks, to be exact) that can be found in saltwater seas, estuaries and oceans around the world. Oyster shells are shucked (the method used to open the oyster to access the fresh meat inside), and they are popularly served raw on the half shell, but can also be battered and deep-fried, steamed, grilled or used in various seafood dishes, such as seafood pastas or chowder.
The insides of oyster shells are lined with a shiny, iridescent layer called ‘nacre’, better known to most jewellery aficionados as mother of pearl (it’s what some oysters use to make pearls). However, it’s important to note that not all oysters do this, which is why naturally harvested pearls are exceedingly rare.
How to eat oysters
If you’ve never tried eating freshly shucked oysters before, you’re in for a real treat. They’re salty, briny and taste a bit like the ocean. Here’s how to eat oysters.
Select your oysters
Unless you live in a seaside town where you can buy fresh oysters straight from the source, your first raw oyster experience should be at a reputable restaurant or seafood bar. This will allow you to taste a variety of oysters so you can determine your preferences. Most restaurant waiters will tell you the region where your oysters were caught.