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Clean oysters under cold running water with a scrub brush. (Do not soak them.) The shells should feel heavy in your hand, and the seams should be tightly closed. Discard any oysters that feel light or are partially opened.
Place an oyster’s hinge on a rolled up kitchen towel. Using an oyster knife, gently work the tip into the seam between the top and bottom shells. Look carefully and you should see a natural place to insert your knife.
Gently wiggle the knife. When you hear a “pop,” slide the blade along the top edge and remove the upper shell. Making sure not to spill the liquor, use the knife to carefully detach the oyster. Slurp.
—Illustration by Peter James Field