Food Fare: Shucking Clams & Oysters


Discard clams which remain open when tapped. Scrub clams with a stiff brush under cold running water to remove sand residue. Soak clams in a mix of salt and cold water for about twenty minutes; repeat soaking process twice more.

Hold clam with a thick towel or glove with hinge facing toward palm of hand. Also hold clam over a large bowl to collect the juice. Using a clam shucking knife, insert tip between clam shell halves near the hinge. Move knife to pry shell apart until a snapping sound occurs. Twist to open the shell (keep clam level to preserve juice). Cut the muscle from the shell using a paring knife; discard bottom shell. Keep clams over ice and juice in separate bowls until ready to use.

Uses for Clam Juice: Add to seafood pasta sauces, stir fry recipes, rice dishes, appetizer dips (Shenanchie's Clam Dip), and alcoholic beverages (such as Clam Juice Cocktail).


Oyster ShellsPlace oyster cupped-side down, with hinge forward-facing. Hold oyster down on a hard surface. Find the gap between the two shells in the upper right-hand corner of the oyster. Insert knife tip between the two shells at a "2 o'clock" position, which is the approximate position of the "adductor" muscle inside the shell. It may be necessary to bore with the tip of the knife in order to penetrate between the two shells. If shell edges are overly fluted, chip edges near the point of insertion with blunt end of the knife before inserting tip.

Make sure to keep knife blade parallel and flat in correlation to shell edges; also keep hand holding oyster away from the path of the knife blade. Once the knife tip is inserted between the two shells, push blade into the oyster; move back and forth to cut adductor muscle. Keep knife blade pressed against the inside top surface of the upper oyster shell to prevent cutting the oyster meat. Move knife back and forth until top shell yields slightly, which indicates the adductor muscle has been severed. Gently pry top shell away from bottom shell with the knife. However, do not pull shells completely apart to prevent removing oyster tissue from the top shell. With shells just barely apart, use knife blade to gently scrape any remaining oyster tissue from the inner top surface of the shell. Completely remove the top shell.

Move the blade of the knife underneath oyster meat; cut adductor muscle where attached to the bottom shell. Tip bottom shell and allow the oyster to slide into a bowl or large plastic container, along with the oyster "liquor" from the lower shell.

Information Source: Island Creek Oysters.

*More About Clam & Oyster Knives:

An oyster knife (also known as oyster opener) can also be used in place of a common kitchen knife. They are sold by online retailers such as Amazon, Bed, Bath & Beyond; Georgia Oyster Knife Company and the Webstaurant Store, among many others.

Clam Shucking Knife          Oyster Knife

What's the difference between a clam shucking knife and an oyster knife? A clam shucking knife has a thin, flat blade to pry open clam shells (pictured above left). An oyster knife is shorter and much sturdier, with a pointed tip for boring into oyster shell hinges (pictured above right).

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