Oyster Etiquette: The Right Way to Eat Oysters


Not every gourmet knows how to eat oysters. This product is either loved or hated, and most people do not know how to get to them and are afraid to order oysters at a restaurant. Let’s dive into how to eat oysters and have fun.

Are you supposed to chew or swallow oysters? Experts believe that there are two ways to eat oysters correctly: by swallowing them or by chewing to taste. But to fully taste the oyster, you need to chew it. Slightly press the tongue against the palate, make a few light chewing movements and then swallow it.

Oyster Etiquette: The Right Way to Eat Oysters

How are oysters served in restaurants? According to etiquette, oysters are served on a round dish, in the center of which they add vinegar or wine essence, lemon wedges and a sauce from the chef. The sauce can be sour, spicy (depends on the country where you eat the oyster). Sometimes black bread toasts are added to the serving.

Typically, oysters are served in restaurants with all the necessary cutlery. At home, they are rarely eaten since not everyone knows how to choose them on their own. Do you eat oysters with a fork? Yes, you will need a special fork to eat oysters.

How to eat oysters in restaurants? In restaurants, oysters are usually ready to be eaten with just a special fork for a meal. With its help, you need to carefully separate the mollusk from its shell — try to do this so as not to splash liquid from it. You can eat oysters by sprinkling them with lemon juice, wine vinegar, tabasco, olive oils, salt or pepper.

At the same time, experts believe that there are two ways to eat oysters correctly: by swallowing or by chewing to fully experience oysters’ taste. Then sip the liquid from the sink and wash it down with dry white wine or brut — these drinks balance the sea taste with a touch of iron and iodine.

Usually, oysters are ordered in the dozens, but this is just a tradition. In addition, doctors do not recommend ordering a lot of oysters: not every stomach can withstand such a powerful protein attack.

It’s not bad if the oysters are opened in front of you at the restaurant, and if they brought them open (this is the most often done), pay attention to their smell: do they smell like the sea? Then oysters are fresh. A fresh oyster reacts to acid. After opening, it is customary to drip a little lemon juice into it. Observe how the oyster reacts to it—a live mollusk wrinkles slightly from the acid.

In different countries, oysters can be served in their own way, but regardless of geography, lemon is always served with them. It disinfects and balances the taste. But the offered sauces may well correspond to the gastronomic mentality of the country or region: for example, in Florida, many restaurants serve oysters with ketchup and mustard, purely American style. Or they can bring fries.

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How to Open an Oyster?

To open an oyster, use a chain mail glove or a thick tea towel and a small inflexible knife with a blade stop. Put the glove on and take the oyster. Insert the knife from the side at the junction of the flaps and turn it until you hear a click. Cut off the muscle that holds the valves. Do not turn the oyster as you might spill its juice. 

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If the oysters are served closed, you will need:

  • A protective chainmail glove;
  • Oyster knife or fork;
  • A glove (or napkin) that protects the hand holding the shell from possible injury.

If, after opening, pieces of the shell remain on the mollusk, they are removed with a knife. This is a mandatory measure because shell fragments can cause serious damage if they enter the esophagus. There is no need to rinse the delicacy. Separate the clam from its shell with a three-pronged fork.

Opened shells are placed on ice. They can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, covered with a kitchen towel. But it’s better to eat them right away.

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Eating Oysters With Lemon

By tradition, oysters are bought in 12 pieces (dozen). It is not recommended to buy more, as too much protein can be bad for your stomach. Therefore, it is better to order 12 oysters for two persons. It is better when oysters are opened directly at the table. If a waiter brings already open oysters, you should check their quality and freshness by sprinkling them with lemon juice. Lemon juice is a good indicator of oysters’ freshness. If the oyster is fresh, it should wrinkle slightly after adding lemon juice.

How to eat oysters with lemon? After separating the oyster from the shell with a special fork, you need to thoroughly sprinkle it with lemon juice. Bring the shell to your mouth and suck out the oyster, and either chew it a little bit to fully understand the taste or swallow it right away. Drink the remaining juice. 

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Eating Oysters With Sauce

How to eat oysters with sauce?

  1. Sprinkle oysters with lemon juice or vinegar.
  2. Take a special oyster knife or fork and take the oyster out.
  3. Add the sauce to the oyster, or remove the oyster and dip in the sauce. Oysters are seasoned with olive oil or sour and hot Tabasco sauce.
  4. Use a fork to get the oyster into your mouth. In an informal setting, oysters are eaten by simply dropping them in your mouth and drinking the juice from the shell.

Eating Oysters With Crackers

How to eat oysters with crackers? In addition to lemon and various sauces, oyster crackers and horseradish can be served with raw shellfish. Oyster crackers are added to the personally served sauce, having previously crumbled them over the saucepan, and horseradish can be added both to the sauce and to the oyster meat itself.

What Do You Drink With Oysters?

Usually, you drink champagne (preferably brut or prosecco), dim white wine or even vodka with oysters. The famous Harrods Oyster Bar in London serves champagne and vodka to accompany oysters. So if you do not like dry white wine, you can not follow etiquette, which does not really exist!

When choosing a drink for oysters, it is best to listen to the sommelier. Naturally, the wine for oysters should only be white. It is not common to drink red wine with seafood and oysters in particular.

The most popular type of oyster wine is the French Chablis from the Chardonnay variety. It does not clog the ruin of the shellfish, but only emphasizes it. The second most popular choice is Italian dry Prosecco. The aroma of wine usually contains fruity and floral notes. And the third option is champagne. Experts assure that it is the champagne that will reveal to you all the rich oyster taste.

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