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Episode 426 - Gone Fishin'
open sesame...
My ideal day of fishing might not involve catching fish; but rather, oysters. Consulting with an expert, such as Jonathan Cummings of Rodney's Oyster House, is a good way to discover how to prepare, eat and enjoy these pearls from the sea.

Jonathan describes the oyster as having a top and a bottom: the top of the oyster is the flattest part of it; the bottom has a nice curve to it. It's is called a "cup," because you can cup it in your hand. The shell is held together by a hinge. To shuck an oyster, place it on a wooden board, and insert the knife into the hinge. Then, turn the knife as you would a doorknob until the shells separate.

Jonathan believes the knife to be an essential tool in shucking an oyster. There are different blades used for different oysters, graded in terms of strength, sharpness or handle size. For example, west coast oyster knives have a stiffer blade for the tough west coast oyster shell.

The board on which to place your oysters is optional, but not essential. Jonathan suggests using one if you shuck oysters on a regular basis. For someone like Jonathan, who has shucked over a million oysters so far in his life, a board makes his job a lot easier.

Once the oyster is exposed, the tasty liquor will be visible. Scrape out any shell particles. The oyster will still be attached to the bottom of the shell, so you'll need to slide your knife under its muscle, and separate it. The black spot on the top of the shell is the place where the muscle of the oyster was attached.

When purchasing oysters, especially if you live in a place where they're not readily available, Jonathan recommends going to a reputable fish shop, or fishmonger. Good oysters should have a nice weight to them, a nice shape, and be firmly sealed.

Jonathan points out that there are different species of oysters, and they all have different flavours. West Coast oysters for example, are pinker and creamier than Malpeque oysters, their eastern counterpart. As well, oysters grow much faster on the west coast.

Remember to be careful when shucking oysters for the first time. It takes years of practice to make it look as easy as our friend Jonathan does.

Special Thanks: Jonathan Cummings, Rodney's Oyster House, Toronto, ON (416) 363-8105