Today my friend Colleen (pictured above) and I learned how to properly shuck oysters at Rapscallion, a Dallas restaurant in the Lowest Greenville neighborhood. I buy raw oysters all the time but I never learned the art of shucking an oyster. Instead I throw raw oysters on the grill for a minute until they yawn open and I can easily shuck them. Since they’re slightly warm, I then charbroil them with parmesan and lemon juice. While charbroiled oysters are delicious, I’ve long dreamt about the day that I would be able to shuck oysters well enough to serve raw oysters on ice at a party.
While my skill level is still far away from shucking dozens of oysters for guests, I can finally say that I know how to properly shuck an oyster thanks to Rapscallion and its co-owner, Brooks Anderson. He is very well versed in the subject and provided a brief history of oysters during Rapscallion’s oyster shucking class today.
A few fun facts I learned:
- The Greek were farming oysters thousands of years ago using pottery shards thrown into the sea (just when you thought the ancient Greek couldn’t get any more awesome!)
- Oysters were the ultimate symbol of wealth in Ancient Rome, costing a whole day’s salary for a single oyster
- European flat (or Belon) oysters taste very similar to the oysters enjoyed by ancient celts
- Only 5,000 European flat (Belon) oysters are harvested in Maine each year and Rapscallion was lucky enough to get a shipment!
Armed with an oyster glove, oyster knife, towel, and champagne, we were ready to try our hand at shucking! Brooks explained how to properly shuck an oyster: by inserting the tip of the oyster knife in the back hinge, wiggling it back and forth to work your way between the shells, and then popping the knife up. Your oyster should be wrapped in a towel and sitting on a firm surface for optimal safety. (Your knife would then stab the table instead of your hand if you were to slip.)
“Shucking is not about strength. It’s about angle.” – Brooks Anderson, Rapscallion
Note: you always want to keep oysters cupped side down so as to not spill the liquid.
We got to taste seven oysters today as we learned how to shuck. After Brooks showed me how to properly shuck, I was able to shuck them all except for the European flat, which required a bit more finesse. Here’s what I thought of the bunch.
Texas Gulf Oyster
Gulf oysters are faintly sweet and readily available in Texas. I vastly prefer east coast oysters to gulf oysters but they’re nice for charbroiling.
This is a particularly long and narrow oyster from Cape Cod Bay in Massachusetts. The Wellfleet was firm, salty, and delicious.
I could write a love sonnet about this oyster. It’s so salty and bursting with flavor. Don’t let its tiny size deter you: this oyster packs a briny punch.
Standish Shore Petites
Also from Cape Cod, this fantastic oyster is buttery and sweet. If you don’t love salty oysters, give Standish Shore a try.
This Japanese oyster has a deep cup and fluted shell. They’re famous for having a cucumber aftertaste. Click here to see a quick video I took of this one!
Kusshis are tumbled aggressively, which thickens their purple-black shell. I preferred the honeydew/melon flavor of the Kumamoto. Kusshis are saltier than sweet Kumies so if you prefer salty, go for Kusshi.
European Flat (Belon)
I see why my idol Mireille Giuliano adores Belon oysters so much. To put it simply, this is a bite to experience. I could eat a dozen of these with buttered baguette every Saturday night and be the happiest gal in the world. Click here to watch Brooks shuck a Belon.
Rapscallion is a chic bistro located on Greenville Avenue. This neighborhood favorite sources its oysters from TJ’s Fresh Seafood Market and is brought to you by the same fine folks who own Veritas Wine Bar and Boulevardier, which I have been dying to visit. Brooks told us that Boulevardier sells (and shucks!) a whopping 75,000 oysters each year. The next time someone tells you you can’t find incredible oysters in Dallas, you send them to Rapscallion or Boulevardier!
If you love oysters and find yourself in Dallas, you need to visit Rapscallion. Tell them The Rose Table sent you.