Jun 112013
 
Dosewallips Pacific oysters on the half shell

Dosewallips Pacific oysters on the half shell

There’s no better food than food that you eat seconds after you harvest it. The other day, I took some friends to Dosewallips State Park for a day of clamming and oyster shucking. After a quick lesson in oyster shucking, we able to fill a plate full of fresh Pacific oysters. A little cocktail sauce and lime juice were all that were needed to render our oysters irresistible. Under a warm sky, we slurped our oysters looking out over the vast Hood Canal. A quintessential Northwest moment!

If you go harvest oysters, don’t forget you need to shuck the oysters on the beach and leave the shells behind for the young oysters to latch onto for the next generation.

Dosewallips oyster ready to be slurped

Dosewallips oyster ready to be slurped

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Jul 242012
 

 

Wild Pacific oyster

Wild Pacific oyster

One of may favorite spring and early summer pastimes is to harvest and eat oysters right after shucking them on the beach.  The firm, briny, and slightly metallic taste of a freshly shucked oyster is out of this world. No restaurant can serve a raw oyster fresher than you can on the beach!

In Washington State, you cannot take oysters home in the shell, they must be shucked first and put in containers. The empty shells must be left on the beach. That’s because the shell provides an excellent base for growing juvenile Pacific oysters.

The most common oyster in Puget Sound is probably the Pacific oyster which can reach 12 inches.  The oyster’s upper shell is flatter and smaller than the lower cup-shaped shell. Unlike many types of farmed oysters you find in restaurants, wild oysters often have uneven and distorted shells, making them more difficult to shuck.

Here are some tips on how to shuck wild Pacific oysters on the beach. (These tips are for the right-handed person.)

  • You’ll need a good, sturdy oyster knife (it’s too dangerous to use a regular knife), a bucket or cooler to sit on (it’s harder to shuck standing up), a thick towel or glove to hold the oyster, and a glove (I prefer a neoprene fishing glove) for your shucking hand.
  • Select an oyster with a shell that is not too distorted and irregular. Smaller, symmetrical shaped oysters are easier to shuck.
  • Orient the flat side so it faces up and the cupped side should be facing down.
Oyster with cupped shell facing down

Oyster with cupped shell facing down

  • Hold the oyster in your left hand with the towel or glove. Sit down and place your left hand against your left thigh so that your leg provides support and resistance against the force of your knife hand (right hand). Very important: Make sure that the towel is folded over several times so it is thick enough to stop a slipped knife from cutting your hand or leg.

 

 

 

  • There are two approaches to shucking, the side-entry and the hinge-entry methods. You’ll need to experiment to see which methods is better for you. I usually start with the side-entry method and then go to the hinge-entry approach if the first approach is too difficult.
Side-entry method of shucking oysters

Side-entry method of shucking oysters

  • In the side-entry method, find the small gap between the upper and lower shells. Insert the knife along the side of the oyster and force the blade into the gap. In some cases, you’ll need to push the knife  in a drilling motion in order to gain entry. Once in the shell,work the knife alongside the top shell and cut the adductor muscle.

 

 

 

Hinge-entry method for shucking oysters

Hinge-entry method for shucking oysters

  • In the hinge-entry method, position the oyster is that the hinge (where the two sides meet) is facing you. Insert the knife in the hinge junction and pry the shells apart using a twisting motion. After gaining entry into the shell, move the knife blade across the top of the upper shell to cut the adductor muscle, freeing the upper shell.
  • In either method, you’ll need to cut the adductor muscle n the lower shell before the flesh will come off the shell.

 

 

 

Shucked oyster ready for cocktail sauce and lime

Shucked oyster ready for cocktail sauce and lime

  • After freeing the oyster from any adhesions to the inner shell, add a dollop of cocktail sauce, a squeeze from a fresh lime, and slurp heaven up!
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Happy as a Clam at Dosewallips State Park

 Posted by on June 22, 2012 at 10:45 pm  Family, Outdoors  No Responses »
Jun 222012
 
Clamming at Dosewallips State Park

Clamming at Dosewallips State Park

On a picture perfect day last weekend, I went clamming with some friends to Dosewallips State Park on the Hood Canal.

Dosewallips is one of my favorite places to harvest clams and oysters in Washington state because it has a scenic beach, there’s a ton of space for everyone, and the shellfish is plentiful. This is an excellent beach for Manila littleneck clams and Pacific oysters.

The Olympics near Dosewallips State Park

The Olympics near Dosewallips State Park

 

In a matter of an hour or so, we were able to harvest our limits of delicious Manila clams. These clams are within the top couple of inches of sand so all you need is a hand trowel to dig for them. It is not uncommon to get your limit of 40 clams within several square yards of digging.

 

Armed with a shucking knife and a bottle of cocktail sauce, we slurped fresh briny oysters right on the beach as they were extracted from their homes. Oysters don’t get any fresher than this!

 

Wide beaches at Dosewallips State Park

Wide beaches at Dosewallips State Park

Dosewallips State Park is comprised of 425 acres and has 5,500 feet of saltwater shoreline facing the Hood Canal. The park is located near Brinnon WA, about 2 1/2 hours from Seattle. It is open for clams from March 1st through October 31st and is open for oysters year-round.

 

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