If you know anything about eating oysters, it’s that they’re delicious to eat and notoriously easy to prepare properly. The challenge lies in meticulously cleaning the shells and choosing a cooking method. There are dozens of ways to prepare an oyster, but few stand alone as the easiest and most popular, especially among home chefs. Below, you’ll find some notes and tips to cooking oysters with a variety of instruments.
A Note on Cleaning
Before cooking your oysters, it is essential to clean them thoroughly. They live in brackish, salty water on firm bottom areas, which mean they can be muddy and dirty. To clean, place the oysters in a colander in a sink and rinse under cold water. If possible, cover the oysters with ice while shaking them under the water. This will keep them colder and aid in scrubbing away hard-packed grime. If you need extra help, consider using an old tooth brush or scrub brush to get to hard-to-reach areas. Once your oysters are clean, you’re ready to get cooking.
Methods for Cooking Oysters
If cooking oysters seems intimidating, consider steaming your first attempt method. Steaming oysters is one of the easiest ways to cook oysters. It’s fast, requires very few tools, and can be adjusted to suit all tastes. Here’s how to do it.
- Fill a large pot with water and bring it to a boil. If possible, use a transparent lid to cover the pot and steaming basket. This will allow you to watch the oysters steam.
- Add your desired seasonings to the boiling water. There is no set list of ingredients to use in steaming liquid, but most recipes include herbs, spices, olive oil, and/or wine. Consider using parsley or cilantro with cloves for the first round.
- Place your oysters in a steaming basket or colander and let them sit within the pot. Place the transparent lid over the basket to speed up and better control the process.
- Remove the oysters from your pot when they begin to open. This can take anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes, depending on the size and number of your oysters. Keep a watchful eye on the pot and be sure to not overcook them.
- Transfer the oysters to a plate to cool.
- Shuck the oysters with a butter knife. This can be tricky, but the oyster should be soft enough for you to remove the meat from the shell. Enjoy!
Baked or oven-roasted oysters are among the easiest and most underrated meals. The process takes just a few minutes and very little labor, and it yields a delicious result.
- Heat your oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit. While the oven preheats, scrub your oysters, but do not shuck them.
- Arrange the oysters in a single layer in a roasting pan fitted with a flat rack. Pour 1/3 inch of hot water into the pan.
- Place the pan, with the oysters on the flat rack, in the oven. Bake for around 7 minutes, or until the oyster shells have begun to open.
- Using tongs or gloves, transfer the hot oysters to a plate or table.
- Shuck, garnish, and eat! Serve with lemon wedges and hot sauce.
Grilled oysters are a summertime favorite. If you’re already working on the grill, it’s very easy to throw a few oysters on the rack and let them cook. Here’s how to do it.
- Prepare the grill for medium-high heat. As it heats up, clean and scrub your oysters.
- Place the oysters cupped side down on the grate and cover the grill. Cook until the oysters begin to open.
- Transfer the oysters to a platter to let cool slightly.
- Use a shucking knife or screwdriver to pry the shells the rest of the way open, keeping the cupped side down to retain as much liquid as possible.
- Cut the muscles from the shell with an oyster or paring knife and serve warm with butter, lemon, and hot sauce.
Need help buying your oysters before cooking this delectable meal? Check out our guide for buying and storing fresh oysters.