Oysters have a full and complex flavor that is best enjoyed raw. Though shucking (opening) fresh oysters can be intimidating, cooks of all skill levels can open them using this basic technique courtesy of Anne Willan’s LaVarenne Pratique — an essential culinary reference book for both novice and expert cooks.
Pick over the oysters, discarding any seaweed. Rinse any mud from the shells, but do not scrub them or soak them in water. Then, take a short, pointed oyster knife in one hand, cover the other hand with a thick glove or cloth, and grip the shell in your palm. Keeping the oyster level with the knife, insert the point of the blade next to the hinge and twist to pry the shell open. Be sure to use a good quality oyster knife — one that has a sturdy blade that won't bend easily.
Cut the muscle of the animal from the shell and discard the top shell.
With the knife, loosen the muscle in the lower hollow shell. If shucking the meat, tip it, with the juice, into a bowl. If serving on the half shell, leave the oysters on the bottom shell and serve on ice.
Kristie Collado is The Daily Meal's Cook Editor. Follow her on Twitter @KColladoCook.