If you love these little bivalves but haven’t a clue how to prepare them, Billy Reid from the St Pancras Grand Restaurant and Oyster Bar has a few essential tips handy.
If you love these little bivalves but haven’t a clue how to prepare them, Billy Reid from the St Pancras Grand Restaurant and Oyster Bar has a few essential tips handy. Find out how to open an oyster without a trip to A & E, and swot up on how best to serve these tasty little creatures from the sea.
**How to store oysters**
- A live oyster uses its muscle to hold the shells tightly closed. When an oyster weakens, the shell gapes open and if it will not close when tapped, it should be discarded.
- Oysters will keep for up to one week if stored correctly, with the deep shell facing down in a fridge or cool place. Cover the oysters with a damp cloth to prevent dehydration, and don’t ever store them in water.
- Oysters can be frozen for up to 3 months just as with other fish products. The shell will open on thawing, but do consume them straight away.
** How to clean and open oysters **
- Clean the outside of the oyster under running water to remove any loose grit or barnacles. Use something to protect your hands but rub the shell with your gloved fingers or use a stiff brush.
- Prepare to open the oyster by holding it in a towel or oven mitt in the palm of your hand, with the hinge (the pointed side) sticking out. This will protect your hand if the oyster knife slips.
- With the flat side of the oyster facing upwards, insert the tip of an oyster knife near the hinge. You only need to insert the knife by about 1/2 an inch. Use an oyster knife, as it is a special blunted knife designed specifically for this purpose.
- Gently work the oyster knife between the shell halves and twist the knife back and forth to open the shell. Once it is opened, slide the knife across the top of the shell to cut the muscle and then run the knife under the body of the oyster. Discard the top shell.
**How to serve oysters**
- The best way to serve raw oysters is on a platter of crushed ice, or sometimes you see them presented on a bed of seaweed.
- Serve with a wedge of lemon or shallot vinaigrette.
- Some people like to add a dash of Tabasco, Horseradish or Worcestershire sauce to them.
- If you’re throwing a dinner party, allow six oysters per person for a starter.
- It isn’t true that oysters are alive when you eat them - as soon as the shell is prised apart and oxygen enters, the oyster will die.
The St Pancras Grand Restaurant and Oyster Bar is open daily between 11am and midnight. To read iLoveMyGrub’s restaurant review of the St Pancras grand, click here.