Fresh, quick and easy to pair with a bottle of champagne: oysters are the perfect snack for your New Year's Eve party. The only downside: It's not easy to open the oyster shell smoothly. How do you open oysters without hurting yourself? How do you recognize bad copy? Two fish specialists explain.
“First of all, you should know that there are different types of oysters in terms of appearance,” says Nick Trachet. He is editor-in-chief of the trade magazine Visaktua and regularly tastes oysters. “There are hollow oysters and there are flat oysters. The ones we eat most are hollow oysters, or so-called 'cruises'. They are much cheaper than flat Zealand oysters, and they are also easier to open. That's why they are sold more often.”
How do you open oysters?
“The supplies you need are an oyster, an oyster knife and a towel,” says Harm Brunswyck of 't Vissershuys in Kortrijk. The damage has opened thousands of oysters in its lifetime. “First of all, you should protect one hand with a towel. Are you right-handed? Then put a folded towel in your left hand. This way you can hold the conch without cutting yourself with the knife.”
The oysters should be in the water and be green-white in color. Isn't that the case at all? Then you know there's something wrong with it.
Then it's time for the real work. “Put the flat side of the oyster up and the hollow side down. Now insert the knife horizontally into the hinge point. You can find this on the pointed end of the oyster. Gently pry the knife, then twist it a quarter turn. The hinge will now be opened. Then move the knife to the center of the shell.” Make sure to stay on the flat side. This way you can cut the sphincter and open the entire shell.
Why this technology? “This opening method ensures that there is less chance of pieces of the shell getting into the oyster. But there is also another technique. You can also open the shell from the side. You can then simply insert an oyster knife from the side and cut the sphincter. The advantage of this is that less force is needed.”
Can you keep it for a long time?
“It's best to serve oysters as fresh as possible. After 24 hours, the oysters will dry out and lose some flavor,” Brunswick says. “If you pre-open oysters, I recommend cutting the oysters from the shell and pouring in the juice. This way you can make sure there is no grit in it. You can then put the oysters back in the shell. The oysters then produce the juice again themselves.
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Haven't opened the oysters yet? “Then you can store it for a week, starting from the day you take it out of the water,” Trachet says. “Make sure you keep it very cold.” It should not be frozen, but rather stored at a temperature of 3 to 5 degrees Celsius. “That way you can be sure it won't open.” Are you afraid you'll end up with a bad oyster? “You'll notice something like that right away. A good oyster should be in the water and be green-white. Isn't that the case at all? Then you know there's something wrong with it.”
What do you eat and drink with him?
“True enthusiasts often eat oysters completely pure,” Trachet says. “If you want something different, you can add a little ground pepper. A drop of lemon juice or a very small drop of Tabasco can also add a nice touch. As for drinks, you can choose champagne or white wine, preferably not too dry. More than Fans of heavier action? Then do like the Irish and drink a Guinness with them. It's better to choose a Guinness with a lower alcohol content. Take Draft Guinness for example.
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