Sam Calagione Teaches Us How to Shuck an Oyster

Sam Calagione made his name growing the "off-centered ales" empire of Dogfish Head Brewery, but the New England native's latest venture comes from his life-long love of the ocean — and its delicious bounty. His new seafood restaurant, Chesapeake & Maine in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, has one of the most impressive raw bars on the Atlantic, with oysters from Maine to Maryland, and what are perhaps the first smoked raw oysters in the world.

Over a tray of his Smoke in the Water oysters, which get a bacon-like infusion from smoked salt, Calagione demonstrated how to properly shuck an oyster and offered an alternate method (purists might call it a cheat). And while Calagione forgot to bring his shucking glove to the demonstration, he recommends always wearing one.

The Traditional Shuck

  1. Hold the oyster level (you don't want to lose the tasty liquor), with the flat, top shell facing up.
  2. Dig the shucking knife into the back hinge of the shell at a 45-degree angle.
  3. Holding the shell in place, gently rotate the knife back and forth (clockwise and counter clockwise) until you can pop the top shell open.
  4. Pass the knife over the oyster to cut the top muscle and release the top shell.
  5. Run the knife under the oyster to cut the bottom muscle. 

The Shuck Hack

  1. Pinch the front of the oyster across the shell lip with a needle nose pliers.
  2. Rotate the pliers down until a black-grey line appears.
  3. Work your knife into that line to open the shell.
  4. Cut the top and bottom muscles.