Hacks Restaurants

How To Shuck An Oyster Starting With The Basics

Shuck Oyster Bar

3313 Hyland Ave | Costa Mesa, CA  92626 | 949.420.0478 | 

Put thirty people in a room, ask them what is on their bucket list and you will likely get thirty different answers, each response backed by personal reason and a reasonable purpose. I continue to experience a life well lived, and peace and tranquility suit my needs more than climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, but oddly enough my bucket list involves just that, a bucket. Seafood has been a significant part of my diet, probably a result of having lived near the ocean all my life. As much as I love sushi, ceviche and most raw fish, the first time I tried oysters, I was not a fan.  As time went by, and after a few visits to New Orleans, I began eating the mollusks by the dozens. Along with a new found favorite food, my constant search for new dishes to make and any excuse to buy new kitchen gadgets, I decided to master shucking at home. The goal; I could have my fill of baked, chargrilled or just raw, chilled oysters with a simple mignonette any day or night of the week.  I’m pretty handy around the kitchen and have a beautiful collection of knives, but watching raw bar chefs shuck by the bucketful was something I never attempted, therefore, a great thing to add to my bucket list.

“The goal is for the fish to be no more than one day out of harvest to be optimal for ocean-to-table dining.”

Sonny Nhoung, the manager at Shuck Oyster Bar in Costa Mesa was kind enough to educate me on the do’s, don’ts and whys of oyster shucking. Before my hands-on lesson, I learned about the multitude of different types of oysters Shuck brings to their customers.  There are an impressive thirty variations of oysters per day coming from upwards of 300 locations per year, with an average of four deliveries per day.  The goal is for the fish to be no more than one day out of harvest to be optimal for ocean-to-table dining. 

Sonny educated me on the basics including the meat to shell ratio, that oyster meat should be visually plump and opaque, and that the shell should not be dense and never should it crumble in one’s hand. We chatted and then got down to business.  

The team at Shuck Oyster Bar doesn’t use chain metal gloves; they wear latex kitchen gloves to protect their hands from the salt water and use a simple oyster shucker and a small terry cloth towel to prop the oyster to prevent it from moving about and risking cutting the fish or oneself.  Keeping one’s fingers intact is a huge, and much-appreciated priority.  He shucked, and then I shucked. The first few were challenging and frustrating, but in the end, I was successful and, no fish or fingers were damaged during the time I spent behind the counter.

There is a reason shucking doesn’t look easy; it isn’t easy. There is a definite learning curve and a delicate process of entering the shell and removing the meat without cutting the oyster, or your hand. Breaking into the shell to get to the meat requires a firm, steady hand as well as the right supplies, which are readily available online or at most kitchen or restaurant supply stores. Gloves of some sort are a must, and although I didn’t wear anything heavy-duty this week, I think until I truly master the technique, I will opt for a thicker glove. After breaking into the oyster, the finesse continues as you have to slice along both the top and bottom of the shell to loosen the meat, and check for and dispose of any debris that may have been floating in water in the shell. Once this is done, the oyster on the half shell is placed on ice to stay cold and the process is repeated until the entire order is filled, which seems to take much longer than it does to consume the fruits of your labor.

The options on how to eat and order oysters are endless, from raw with a squeeze of lemon, spicy cocktail sauce or a pickled mignonette, to breaded and deep-fried, to chargrilled with butter and parmesan. And, of course, the classic century-old Oysters Rockefeller dish, baked with spinach,  onions, parsley, garlic, spices, butter and breadcrumbs.

If purchasing oysters to shuck at home, make sure to get them as fresh as possible from a reputable fish market or seafood restaurant. Or keep it easy and pull up a seat at your favorite raw bar and let the experienced chefs serve you. Will I be running out and shucking oysters anytime soon? Maybe. Am I glad I learned how? Definitely. My bucket list has another check mark in front of it, and that is something that continues to make this fantastic life worth living.

Shuckin’ Oysters in 3 Easy Steps

  1. Grip the oyster firmly in a clean terry cloth towel and insert a knife into the hinged edge. Twist to open the shell.
  2. Run the knife along the inside of the top shell, cutting the muscle that attaches the oyster to the shell.
  3. Lift off the top shell, then slide the knife under the oyster to cut the second muscle.

Can You Name All Five Species of Oysters?

  1. Pacific Oysters or Japanese Oysters
  2. Kumamoto Oysters
  3. European Flat Oysters
  4. Atlantic Oysters
  5. Olympia Oysters

Our Picks For The Best Oyster Knives

  1. R.Murphy Knives, Daramiscotta Oyster Knife, $37
  2. Dexter’s Sani-Safe Oyster Knife, $16.50
  3. Victorinox New Haven Style Oyster Knife, $12.21
  4. Oxo Good Grips Oyster Knife, $8.99

Related Links:

How Cilantro Can Spice Up Your Palate

23 Gifts Any Foodie Will Love

10 Chefs You Should Be Following On Instagram

Article by Marla Lackey for Sauté Magazine. Photography by Joan Fuller Photography. Read the original article here.

#foodbeast Food Trucks FOODBEAST Hit-Or-Miss Nightlife

Your Complete Guide To OOZEFEST 2016, The Cheesiest Festival Ever


Just when you thought things couldn’t get any cheesier, the sequel to Oozefest is upon us, as over 50 of southern California’s prominent restaurants and breweries are gathering in Santa Ana to celebrate all things cheese.

Last year’s event was pretty epic, featuring oozing goodness such as Mozzarella Bun Burgers, cheesy cotton candy and even the world’s tallest grilled cheese stack.

This year’s festival will look to surpass last year’s hype, and if you look at the scheduled line-up, it will absolutely do so.

Oozefest is quickly becoming the premier go-to food festival for cheese lovers, as last year proved that the event could bring out the best in So Cal chefs, asking them to think outside the box, and provide a food experience that cannot be found anywhere else, including their own restaurants.

With that said, it’s time to get your taste buds excited, as this is the cheesy goodness you’ll have to look forward to at Oozefest Pt. 2.

NOTE: This covers a majority of our vendors, but some are choosing to debut an item at the festival. Vendors also subject to last minute changes. Check which vendors are on which day on

Grits Fullerton: Grits Grilled Cheese

Grilled cheese at a cheese festival is a given, and Grits is coming in strong, stuffing it with bacon, jalapeno grits, jam, cheddar and port salut, all between sourdough bread.

SideDoor 5Crowns: Lamb Cheesesteak Sandwich

Side Door’s lamb cheesesteak is as dope as it sounds. Stuffed with lamb meat and topped with veggies, this cheesesteak is then smothered in a cheese sauce that’ll have you drooling.

Slater’s 50/50: Vampire Dip

Slater’s has built its reputation on crazy burgers, but they’re taking a step back from their forte and whipping out a dope artichoke dip, instead. This thing is going to be loaded with garlic, so this would be the perfect time to check if your date is secretly a vampire.

Elbows Mac and Cheese: QueSo Caliente Mac n Cheese

Mac & cheese is Elbows’ specialty, and they’re rolling into Oozefest with something special. Their macaroni will be mixed with ghost pepper, provolone, and cheddar cheese. Topped with Mexican shredded beef, seasoned taco shell crumbs, guacamole, a tomato and red pepper salsa, sour cream, and house made shredded beef taquitos on the side.

Chapter One: Duck Croquetas

If you’ve never had duck before, you can get your bill wet with Chapter One’s Duck Croquetas. It’s a shredded duck-filled ball that’s breaded and deep fried before getting smothered in lime crème fraîche and queso fresco.

Pour Vida Latin Flavor: Cheeseburger Taco

Cheeseburgers and tacos are perfectly amazing on their own, but put them together and you have magic. With a housemade tortilla, the Cheeseburger Taco comes with shredded cheese, Kobe ground beef, shredded cheese, shredded ice berg lettuce, house made thousand island and a roma tomato.

Puesto Mexican Street Food: Pork Belly and Chorizo Tacos


How do you upgrade a chorizo taco? Add pork belly, of course. This bad boy has chorizo, seared pork belly, goat cheese, creamy jalapeño salsa, salsa negra, pickled red onions, and microgreens on a blue corn tortilla.

Treatery: Strawberry Cheesecake S’more


In the midst of all the festival’s cheese pulls and dripping cheddar, you’re eventually going to want some dessert, and that’s where Treatery is going to come in beautifully. Their s’more is going to consist of strawberries on a graham cracker, with a cream cheese marshmallow sandwiched in.

The kebab Place: Open Face Gyro

The Kebab Place is coming in hot with a beef/lamb mixed gyro, topped with fresh cucumber, roma tomato, tzatziki, house cilantro sauce and crumbled feta.

Slapfish: Lobster Taquitos

Slapfish won the people’s vote at last year’s Oozefest, and this year they’re coming back with lobster taquitos filled with pure Maine lobster, cheddar cheese, creamy clam chowder and their signature Slapfish hot sauce.

Green2Go Brea: Gluten and Egg Free Mac & Cheese


After loading up on all the fried food, you’ll probably want to invest your body in something a bit healthier, and that’s where Green2Go will help you out. While their mac & cheese is mixed with delicious candied bacon and maple bacon Kettle chips, you’ll be happy to know that it’s egg-free and has zero gluten.

Infinity Sauce: Jalapeno Boats


Infinity Sauce’s Jalapeno Boats will have a cream cheese base, infused with Infinity’s chipotle hot sauce, topped with chorizo, then layered with melted cheddar cheese. The Infinity fun doesn’t stop there, as they’ll also be creating a giant hot sauce tower.

Surfas Culinary District: Wolf Pup Braised Pork Belly with Pomme Aligot

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Surfas’ offering is a mouthful to say, but totally worth putting in your mouth. An IPA Braised pork belly, raclette and 2-year-Australian cheddar blended Aligot with parsley citrus salad.

Sit Low Pho: Jalapeno Ham and Cheese Egg Roll

These aren’t your typical egg rolls, as Sit Low Pho is adding some spice to them, and keeping the cheese pulls at a maximum level. Stuffed with cream cheese, mozzarella, and ricotta, you’re definitely going to have fun with this stretchy cheese sensation.

Shuck Oyster Bar: Yakitory Style Shrimp Balls

Shuck is putting together a shrimp and beef meatball skewer that’s covered in cheddar cheese sauce. With three per skewer, you better come hungry and ready to control that dripping cheese.

The Iron Press: Chicken Mac & Cheese Waffle

Walking into Oozefest with some serious waffle swag, The Iron Press is grilling waffles with mac & cheese, chicken, and bacon all hiding within its fluffy squares.

Urbana Anaheim: Choriquezo Doblatida

Urbana’s Choriquezo is almost like a mini quesadilla, stuffed with chorizo and Oaxaca cheese. They top it with a tangy habanero salsa and some crema, giving you a delicious little taste of Mexico with every bite.

Citizen Kitchen: Caciocavallo Impiccato

When a dish is hard to pronounce, you know it’s good. Citizen Kitchen’s hanging Caciocavallo is spread on a white truffle-yeast donut (not cake donut, so it’s more like bread than a sweet donut). Then it’s topped with sliced Granny Smith Apples, house dried oregano and white truffle oil. The videos circulating online from various Oozefest previews have been receiving hundreds of thousands of views:

Cafe Calacas: Queso Fundido Chorizo Brioche Donut

What’s in a name? In this case, everything. This buttery brioche donut is going to be smothered in a Mexican favorite called queso fundido, which is an oozing melted cheese, sort of like a raclette.

Sgt Pepperoni’s Pizza Store: Balls Deep

Sgt. Pepperoni is going balls deep with a cheese-stuffed meatball that’s covered in a deep fried cheese-dough dome. A side of marinara lets you dip your balls, and get a cheesy sensation like no other.

Chomp Eatery: Unicorn Grilled Cheese

The Unicorn Grilled Cheese is a colorful mix of four cheeses that looks like someone melted a rainbow and smashed it in between a couple slices of bread. Get your camera phone ready, because this one has “Instagram likes” written all over it.


Nacho Nation: Los Angeles Pizza Nachos



What’s a cheese festival without nachos? Nacho Nation is going to hook you up with their Los Angeles Pizza Nachos. These aren’t your standard, run of the mill, 6-year-old’s birthday party kind of nachos, these consist of fresh corn tortilla chips, spicy marinara sauce, shredded mozarella cheese, sliced pepperoni, beef chorizo, black olives, oregano, and a ranch & marinara sauce drizzled over top.

Bruxie: B.A.M.F.

Bruxie is a OG in the Orange County waffle scene and they’ll be at Oozefest, offering another crazy creation. Their B.A.M.F. lives up to its name as the waffle will be topped with fried chicken, cheese and their buffalo sauce.

TLT Food: Blue Crab Grilled Cheese

TLT is strolling through their famous Blue Crab Grilled Cheese. Yes, it’s the same TLT that won season two of the Great Food Truck Race and their grilled cheese consists of Blue Crab, a special cheese Blend, scallions, jalapeños, sambal, on grilled sourdough.

VIP Beer Vendors

Modern Times Brewery: Oneida Pale, and Fruitland Gose

Good Beer Co + FOODBEAST Collab: Santa Ana Saison With Cranberry and Orange Zest


Reverend Nat Cider: Sour Cherry Cider, and Revival Cider


4 Sons Brewing Co: Cinnamon Raisin Belgian Quad

Laguna Beach Beer Co: Greeters Pale Ale, and Canyon Road Red Ale

Unsung Brewing Co: An Amber Lager with Cacao Nibs

Acoustic Ales: Shake Your Money Maker Brown Ale, and Ginger Mule

Saint Archer Brewing: Mosaic DIPA


Notable Marketplace Vendors

While the VIP restaurants above are going to be lit, the Marketplace is going to be just as loaded with pretty crazy pay-as-you-go food options.


Kogi BBQ: Kimchi Grilled Cheese

The legendary food truck that fused Korean and Mexican food, will be making a special appearance in the Oozefest Marketplace, slinging a Kimchi Grilled Cheese Sandwich. If you’ve never had a chance to try the Godfather of food trucks, here’s your shot.

The Naughty Churro: Pizza Churro

The Naughty Churro is definitely Rookie of the Year in the festival scene, making serious noise at the 626 Market with a colorful cotton candy churro ice cream sandwich and churro chicken sandwich. Now he’s making noise with a pizza stuffed churro that already has social media buzzing.

Mess Hall Canteen: Pulled Pork Mac & Cheese Sandwich

This monstrous grilled cheese will be stuffed with not just mac & cheese, but pulled pork mac & cheese. This thing has some serious girth, and if you’re planning to take a picture of it, you better clear out some space on your phone for this massive sandwich.

All Flavor, No Grease: Extra Cheesy Quesadilla

#mondaynightfootball #AFNG #Awwready

A video posted by Keith Garrett #AFNG (@allflavornogrease) on

This is really a treat for Oozefest-goers, as the famous Watts quesadilla spot is leaving its Los Angeles post for the first time and slanging its colossal quesadillas at this festival.