How to Eat Oysters the ‘Right’ Way: A Complete Guide
Of all the oceanic delights served in fine dining establishments, few are more decadent or indulgent than oysters. These small bivalve mollusks are briny and sweet, with a mildly chewy texture, and make a delectable appetizer — especially when enjoyed as a precursor to the smokey, peppery flavors of roast pork or beef tenderloin. But then again, ask any avid shucker, and they’ll likely stand by eating these saltwater jewels as a main course meal.
Given their palatability, it’s a shame that oysters are often overlooked by hesitant diners, either because of their texture, fear of the unknown, or the tedious shucking process.
At Rivertail, we believe more people would try eating oysters (and discover a newfound appreciation for them) if they were better informed about what to expect. After all, no one enjoys feeling awkward or ill-prepared at the table.
We’ve compiled this complete guide on how to eat raw oysters for this very reason. We hope it inspires you to give oysters a chance if you haven’t yet done so. And if you have, we hope it inspires you to book a reservation to delight in them again soon.
The Health Benefits of Eating Oysters
Before we talk through the topic of how to eat oysters, you may be interested to know they’re a culinary pleasure that benefits more than just your palate. Oysters are also brimming with micronutrients, including vitamins, minerals, and protein — making them one of the healthiest hors d’oeuvres on the planet.
More precisely, each oyster you eat is naturally fortified with the following:
1. Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is linked to a broad range of health benefits, like anemia prevention, increased energy production, and improved brain function. Just six ounces of oysters provide 27.2 micrograms of Vitamin B12 — significantly more than the minimum recommended daily intake for adults.
2. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
A reduced likelihood of eye disease, cardiovascular disease, and insulin resistance have all been associated with increasing a person’s intake of omega-3 fatty acids. And since there are 585 milligrams of omega-3 in just three ounces of oysters, you’re sure to hit your daily recommended intake in just one sitting.
Zinc is an essential nutrient best known for its immune-boosting properties. It also plays a role in the healthy management of blood sugar levels and the body’s natural healing process. Each oyster you eat has approximately 5.5 milligrams of zinc in it, which is half the recommended daily adult intake of 11 milligrams.
How to Eat Oysters Like a Pro
Now that you’re sold on why you should eat oysters, let’s move on to a step-by-step breakdown of the proper way to eat oysters.
1. Ensure The Oyster is Detached From The Shell
Before you pick up your oyster, it’s always best practice to use the small appetizer fork (typically provided with oysters) to double-check the oyster is detached from its shell. If not, you’ll have trouble slurping the oyster into your mouth. Simply slide your appetizer fork under the oyster, lifting gently, to confirm it’s no longer attached. If it is, a light swooping motion is enough to separate it — just be careful not to spill the liquor inside (it’s delicious!).
2. Carefully Pick Up The Shell
If you’ve ever wondered, “How do you eat an oyster?” you’ve likely also wondered how to hold one. It can feel awkward to pick one up, especially since you’re trying to balance the shell and not tip out its contents (or spill them on your shirt!). Fortunately, there’s a standard approach you can take to ease your discomfort.
All oysters tend to have a teardrop shape, with one end being larger and rounder than the other. To properly grip an oyster, pick it up by the small end or the point of the teardrop. Place your pointer and middle finger under the tip of the oyster, and use your thumb to gently press down on the top. This will allow you to hold the oyster securely and use it almost like the head of a spoon. You’ll tip the large end up to your lips and allow the oyster to slide into your mouth.
3. Sip the Oyster Liquor
You may hear conflicting opinions about this tip when discussing the best ways to eat oysters. Still, many of the world’s leading seafood connoisseurs encourage diners to sip the oyster liquor (the broth surrounding the oyster in the shell) before eating it. This liquor is what allows the oysters to maintain their freshness. Plus, it has a distinct saline taste reminiscent of seawater, which prepares the palate for the additional seafood to come.
4. Tip the Oyster Into Your Mouth
To “slurp” an oyster, simply tip your head backward while holding the wider end of the oyster to your lips. The oyster should easily slide out of its shell and into your mouth. Just be careful not to let it become lodged in the back of the throat. Slow and steady is the key here!
We’re often asked, “Are you supposed to chew oysters?” and we’re here to tell you that despite what you may have heard, it’s not recommended to swallow an oyster whole. Biting into the oyster allows flavorful juices to escape and enhances the overall savoring experience. Trust us. Chewing is the correct method — who spends their hard-earned money on seafood they don’t intend to taste?
There you have it! A complete rundown of how to eat oysters on the half shell. Give it a try, and remember, practice is the only way to truly gain confidence. Never apologize or feel embarrassed about being new to eating oysters. Every expert has to start somewhere.
Plus, oyster eateries are welcoming and are meant to provide a one-of-a-kind dining experience. It’s not about how correctly you eat your oysters. It’s about how much you enjoy it!
Additional Tips for Eating Oysters Without Making a Mess
Now that you have the answers to questions like “Do you chew oysters?” and “How do you slurp an oyster?” let’s have a look at some final steps you can take to take your dining experience to the next level.
1. Place a Napkin in Your Lap
It’s proper etiquette in a formal dining environment to open your napkin and place it across your lap before eating. It’s typically frowned upon to tuck the napkin into your collar or leave it on the table, but again, this depends on the restaurant. In addition to proper etiquette, having a napkin on your lap protects your clothing from spillage, gives easy access to wiping your fingers, and makes it easier to prevent a mess.
2. Press the Shell to Your Lips
This is a simple tip, but it can make a big difference for beginners who are just learning how to eat oysters. You never want to drop the oyster into your mouth, as this increases the likelihood of it falling onto the floor or into your lap. Plus, it could cause you to choke if it slips too far into the throat. Always firmly press the shell against your bottom lip to ensure a smooth transition from the shell to the mouth.
3. Use Condiments Sparingly
We’re often asked, “How do you eat raw oysters?” The answer is in the question itself — you eat them raw. Oysters require minimal seasoning or added flavor. They’re delicious exactly as they are! A quick squeeze of lemon, a dash of hot sauce, or a light sprinkling of pepper is more than enough to bring out the oyster’s inherent saltiness and sweetness. And as a bonus? The fewer condiments you use, the less likely a stained shirt becomes.
Experience Reel Seafood at Rivertail
We’re committed to maintaining our spot as the best seafood restaurant in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. How do we do it? It starts with treating our seafood with the utmost care and honoring the natural flavors of each ingredient. We know seafood tastes best when it’s respected as the delicate, mild, and tender culinary element — and that’s why we infuse that respect into everything we do. Our standards of excellence never vary from the supplier to the kitchen to your plate.
We follow up on the precise preparation of our seafood with a warm, sunny, Florida-inspired atmosphere that offers intimate seating options, as well as long family-style tables and al fresco dining. Once you step inside, we’re confident you’ll love our contemporary interior and its blend of tropical influences, modern accents, and bold design elements. It’s truly a setting unlike any other.
If you’re ready to savor Florida’s freshest seafood while enjoying an elevated dining experience you’ll recall fondly for years to come, Rivertail is the place for you. We invite you to make a reservation today.
Bring a friend or the whole family, along with an empty belly, because you’re guaranteed to leave full and eager to plan your next visit with us.