Oysters must be purchased live and opened just before they are served if they are to be eaten raw. Live oysters have firmly closed shells and they should be kept in the refrigerator until they are used, which should always be on the same day as purchase.
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- Scrub the tightly closed shells with a stiff brush and scrape them, if necessary, to remove all sand and dirt.
- Oysters contain a delicately flavored juice that is served with the raw shellfish or reserved for use in a sauce if the oysters are to be cooked. To open an oyster, use a strong, short-bladed knife, preferably a proper oyster knife.
- Protect your hand with a thick cloth; a folded oven glove is ideal. Hold the oyster in one hand, rounded shell down, over a bowl to catch any juices. If the oysters are to be served raw, the juices should be kept in the shells. Insert the tip of the oyster knife into the hinge.
- Twist the knife to pry the shell apart at the hinge and cut the two muscles which lie above and below the oyster. Run the knife blade between the shells to open them and lift off the top shell. After opening the shell, loosen the oyster with a knife.
- Drain the juices from the oyster shells and trickle a little melted butter over the oysters, then grill them briefly until they are just opaque and firm – this should take about 3–4 minutes. Grilled oysters may be served very plain; with a little pepper and lemon juice, or they may be dressed with cream and cheese or a sauce before grilling.