Friday, January 3, 2014

Oysters And The Tool That You Need To Buy, Then Bring To Frank's Seafood In Jessup

Oysters and Seafood Hardware's cast iron oyster knife
On a visit to a friend in Nashville, I discovered a cool new tool perfect for the oyster-lover in your life.

Oysters on the half shell are a huge treat, and I love Frank's Seafood at this time of year for their selection of top-notch oysters.  The Jessup market is inside the wholesale seafood market off Rte 175, but you can shop there for fish, crabs and shellfish.

Last week, they had five local varieties, ranging from a salty, salty Sewansescott variety to several Maryland sweets.  They pick you good oysters.  You can buy a handful or dozens by the bag.  The selection lets you make a plate -- even for one person -- that contrasts the different flavors from the sea.

Oysters at Frank's
And now all that can be so much easier to open.

Frank's taught me to shuck oysters, and they sold me a small knife that remains the best way to worm into an oyster shell if it's really tight.  But a Georgia company sells a cast iron oyster knife that makes all the difference.  Its tip forces between oyster shells -- with a slight start by my shucking knife in the crazy few where the shell has grown around the hinge.  Then, the Georgia knife pops open an oyster easier than a key in a lock.

Cast iron makes all the difference.  That knife will never snap, and you will never cut yourself.  It's forged so that you push with your palm and thumb.  I can press hard to get into the oyster, then separate the shells with a twist.  Once open, I slice the meat from the shell with the shucking knife.  In Nashville, I did a dozen oysters like clockwork.

The one problem is that we need a Chesapeake version.  You can buy the original oyster knife ($29 with shipping) with a plain metal bar connecting the two sides.  But the Georgia company Seafood Hardware makes personalized versions cut with the outlines of Georgia, Texas and other southern states.  At a minimum, we need a DelMarVa version with the outline of the bay.

Seriously, I recommend the Seafood Hardware knife.  They hand-forge them in Georgia.  They're a cool gift, and they made me much more confident that I could open any oyster.

This is a job for Steve Vilnit!!  A Chesapeake or a Maryland version of the oyster knife could be a fun partnership with some of our local oyster companies.  That's fishery marketing!


Patapsco Mike said...

Anything that gets people eating oysters is a good thing! Lots of different tools exist that people use. The other day I got to see a Vollrath Oyster King shucking contraption in action. It worked, and it looked kind of cool, but it pushed crushed shell into the meat half the time.

Shucking oysters from the hinge, as you're doing, is more common in the South. Here in MD it's traditional to shuck on the bill side with a slim "Chesapeake Stabber" style knife. Both work, sort of a Ford/Chevy thing. A wide bladed screwdriver works too.

Those who like to hinge shuck might want to consider a Dexter-Russell S126. For a traditional Chesapeake knife, the Dexter-Russel 22PCP is a nice blade.

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