The ultimate guide to serving fresh oysters at home. It's one of the best ways to enjoy this delicacy, and will certainly cause a stir at your next dinner party. Read this ultimate guide to when to eat oysters, how to shuck oysters, how to serve them, and more.
- 📖 Ingredients List
- 👩🏼🍳 How To Prepare Oysters On Half Shell
- 🧅 How To Serve Fresh Oysters
- 🦪 How To Eat An Oyster
- ⭐️ How Many Oysters For A Party?
- 👩🏼🍳 Chef's Tips For Serving Oysters
- ❓What Do Oysters taste Like?
- 🥂What Wine Goes With Oysters
- 🗓 When can you eat oysters?
- ❄️ Storing Fresh Oysters
- 🥣 Equipment For Serving Oysters
- ❓Fresh Oysters FAQ
- 🍽 Other party recipes
- 📖 Recipe
- 💬 Comments
📖 Ingredients List
- Fresh oysters - There are over 200 types of oysters in the world, so you're spoilt for choice! In the UK, where I am, we have the Pacific, the Native, and the Kumamoto. Common oyster varieties in the USA are the Atlantic oysters, Pacific oysters, European Native oysters, Kumamoto oysters, and Olympia oysters. Other popular
- Shallot - sweeter than onions, shallots have a deliciously mild taste, and we pickle them slightly to take the edge off further so that the oyster flavor can sing. It needs to be very finely diced.
- Red wine vinegar - Red wine vinegar is the traditional version served with fresh oysters. You could also use white wine vinegar, sherry vinegar, or apple cider vinegar in this mignonette if you prefer.
- Fresh parsley - I love adding fresh herbs to oysters, and parsley really elevates the oyster taste.
- Extra virgin olive oil (optional) - A classic mignonette will not have oil in it, but I sometimes like to add it in. You can also use other oils, but I like the flavor profile of olive oil with oysters.
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Lemon juice - A squeeze of fresh lemon juice elevates the flavors and adds some citrus zing.
- Tabasco (or other hot sauce) - A touch of chili spice is a classic way to serve oysters, and fiery Tabasco is a great hot sauce to use.
See the printable recipe card at the bottom of this post for full quantities and step-by-step directions on how to serve fresh oysters at home.
👩🏼🍳 How To Prepare Oysters On Half Shell
First, check the oysters are alive. Oysters should be clamped shut, or they should close if you tap them. If they remain open, they are dead oysters and need to be discarded. The best oysters smell fresh and not fishy.
Place the oyster into a holder with the flatter side on top. Stick the tip of your oyster shucker into the shell hinge at the back and wiggle/twist/lever it to pop the oyster shell open. Run the oyster knife over the top of the oyster meat, flush to the top shell, to sever the muscle. Remove the top shell.
Rinse the knife, then slide it under the oyster meat to sever the bottom adductor muscle and free the oyster in the shell. Use the knife tip to pick out any pieces of shell or grit that you can see. Place the fresh oysters on half shells onto a serving platter.
🌟 Top Tip 🌟
The oysters should be well-hydrated with sea water (oyster liquor) on the inside. Throw away any dry oysters with a shriveled appearance that sticks to their shells.
🧅 How To Serve Fresh Oysters
- Finely dice the shallot and then place it into a bowl with the red wine vinegar. Let it sit for 5 minutes so that the shallot can pickle slightly, then whisk in the olive oil (if using), add the chopped parsley, and season with salt and pepper.
- Place the fresh oysters on a half shell onto a bed of ice and top each one with a spoonful of mignonette dressing. Serve with fresh lemon wedges and Tabasco sauce on the side.
🦪 How To Eat An Oyster
- Squeeze over a drop of lemon juice and
- Tilt the flat edge of the shell to your lips and slurp the oyster and oyster liquor out of it. Alternatively, use a small fork to eat oysters.
- Chew oysters a few times to fully appreciate the taste and texture before swallowing.
⭐️ How Many Oysters For A Party?
If serving fresh oysters as an appetizer or canape, allow for 3-4 oysters per person. Serve 5-6 fresh oysters per person as a first course and 6-8 fresh oysters per person as a main course.
👩🏼🍳 Chef's Tips For Serving Oysters
Finely chopped cucumber, bell pepper, avocado, or tomatoes also taste delicious when mixed with the vinaigrette and served on top of fresh oysters. Try other herbs, too, like fresh mint leaves, coriander, chervil, or dill. I also like a small amount of chopped apple or pomegranate seeds added to the mignonette.
Fresh oysters should always be kept at 4-8°C/40-45°F, which is why they are usually presented on a bed of ice at parties. Serve fresh oysters this way to stay as safe as possible when eating shellfish.
If you see a lot of grit in the shells after shucking oysters, you can take the oyster meat out of the shell and run it briefly under cold running water to rinse it before placing it back in.
Seafood lovers who enjoy the finer things in life will also like these caviar and creme fraiche vol au vents. Fresh oysters make a delicious canape before main courses like salmon en croute and a champagne sauce for seafood.
❓What Do Oysters taste Like?
Different varieties of oysters have different tastes and textures brought about by their climactic conditions, known as “merroir.” All oysters will have a degree of salinity as they are salt-water bivalve molluscs. But some, like East Coast Natives, are clean and briny, whereas others, like West Coast oysters, have a creamy taste and more minerality.
🥂What Wine Goes With Oysters
A Blanc de Blanc Champagne with toasty notes is the classic wine pairing for oysters. Alternatively, the best wine with oysters is a dry white wine, like a creamy Chardonnay that has gone through malolactic fermentation to get a fuller body and robust creaminess that will complement the creamy taste of oysters.
Read more basic food and wine pairing tips here.
🗓 When can you eat oysters?
Wild oysters can be enjoyed by oyster lovers in any month of the year that has the letter 'r' in it, namely September through to April. Give oysters a miss in the warmer months of May-August.
❄️ Storing Fresh Oysters
If you buy raw oysters, they are alive and need to be kept that way. Freshwater will kill oysters, so never submerge them in tap water.
To store raw oysters, place them on a tray or plate, large shell side down (also known as the belly side), covered in a damp cloth in the refrigerator. They can stay this way for up to one week but are best enjoyed within 2 days.
You can freeze fresh oysters, but after defrosting, they should only be used in cooked oyster recipes like Oysters Rockefeller.
🥣 Equipment For Serving Oysters
Use a shucking clamp or oyster holder to keep the oysters still and secure whilst you shuck them. If you do not have an oyster holder or shucking clamp, you can use a towel folded in half to hold the oyster in place.
You will need an oyster-shucking knife with a strong blade that can prise apart the oyster shells. Make sure you protect your hands from injury by wearing a pair of cut-resistant oyster shucking gloves.
Serve oysters on a shallow platter filled with crushed ice.
❓Fresh Oysters FAQ
Eat live oysters within two days for best results, but they can last for 7 days if stored correctly in the fridge.
Shuck raw oysters and serve them on a half shell with mignonette sauce and a drop of lemon juice.
Many will say that Belon oysters have the best taste, with a creamy flavor and sweet finish.
🍽 Other party recipes
Hosting a party and looking for other elegant recipes to serve to your guests? Try these:
The Ultimate Guide To Serving Fresh Oysters At Home
- 1 Oyster Shucking Knife
- 1 Shucking clamp
- 1 Gloves
- 1 serving platter
- 12 Raw oysters
- 1 Shallot
- 3 tablespoon Red Wine Vinegar
- 1 tbsp Fresh parsley
- 1 tablespoon Extra virgin olive oil (optional)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Lemon juice
- Tabasco (or other hot sauce)
How to shuck oysters
- Place the oyster into a holder, belly side down. Place the tip of your oyster knife into the shell hinge and wiggle/twist it to pop the shell open. Run the oyster knife over the top of the oyster meat, flush to the top shell, to sever the muscle. Remove and discard the top shell.
- Rinse the knife, then slide it under the oyster meat to sever the bottom adductor muscle. Use the knife tip to pick out any pieces of shell or grit that you can see, or run the oyster meat under cold running water before placing it back in the half shell.
How to make mignonette sauce
- Finely dice the shallot and then place it into a bowl with the red wine vinegar. Let it sit for 5 minutes so that the shallot can pickle slightly, then mix in the olive oil and chopped parsley and season with salt and pepper.
How to serve oysters
- Serve fresh oysters on a bed of crushed ice with a teaspoon of shallot vinaigrette on top of each one, with fresh lemon wedges and tabasco on the side.