Throw the ultimate oyster party! Here are a few ideas on what to serve, what to drink, and how to shuck. It’s guaranteed to be a terrific time!
HAVE YOU EVER BEEN TO AN OYSTER PARTY?
Oyster parties were off my radar up until I started going steady with my husband.
His parents have impeccable taste in food and love gathering and reuniting the family together over good food and wine.
Every year they drive over to New Brunswick and come back with more oysters than I care to count, and then, if all works out, there’s an evening of all-you-can-eat oysters.
They have mastered the art of oyster parties, and it’s become my favourite kind of party because, well, oysters are delicious.
If you don’t like oysters, this might not be the party for you, and if you don’t know whether or not you like oysters, then it’s high time you find out!
OYSTER PARTY IDEAS: A VIDEO
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THE BEST TIME TO THROW AN OYSTER PARTY
Oysters can be purchased year-round, so the answer is whenever you like!
I tend to prefer the months that end in “ber”, however, because that’s when oysters are in abundance and there are big sales to be had.
It turns out that the “ber” rule dates back to when refrigeration wasn’t available, which is key because that’s how you keep oysters alive!
Oysters thrive in cool waters, so when you take them home from the store, I recommend slipping them into a dishpan and putting a damp cloth over them before figuring out where to stash them in the fridge.
WHICH OYSTERS SHOULD I BUY?
Honestly, I don’t know, but the Spruce Eats does!
Both come from Prince Edward Island, which is as local as it’s going to get for me since I don’t live in the Maritimes.
I think where you are in the world should help you to determine which oysters to opt for, and I’m positive your local fishmonger will be only too happy to assist!
HOW DO I SHUCK AN OYSTER?
Do you want to know how my mother-in-law and I shuck oysters? We get our husbands to do it!
At my in-laws’ oyster parties, all the men will be shucking away while the ladies enjoy their wine and hassle-free oysters.
The men don’t mind, by the way, because they get first dibs on the oysters!
I highly recommend this method if you can swing it, but if not, I invited Big Papa to demonstrate how it’s done in the video at the beginning of this post.
First, you’ll need a towel to hold down the oyster and you’ll also need an oyster knife.
If you can get your hands on an oyster holder, that will make your life easier.
Some people insist on wearing cut-resistant gloves too because you never know with oysters (they can be tough little buggers).
To shuck, simply find the seam in the oyster, wedge your knife in, and twist until you feel the shell shift.
Then, work the knife until it opens up, cutting the top muscle in the process.
If the shell breaks, take heart and keep going: it happens to everyone.
Discard the top shell (you’ll want to have a bowl handy for the compost) and then sever the bottom muscle.
Lastly, give the oyster a sniff to make sure it smells like the sea.
Sometimes you’ll come across an oyster where as soon as you open it, you’ll recoil in horror because of the noxious fumes permeating your workspace.
Get rid of it, take a sip of wine, and move on to the next oyster.
WHAT FOOD SHOULD I SERVE AT AN OYSTER PARTY?
While oysters on the half shell are the main event at oyster parties, they’re not the only thing available.
Some people don’t even like oysters!
Now, why they would be at an oyster party is beyond me, but if that’s the case, be sure to serve a couple of things that are oyster-free.
Oyster-free dishes aside, here are a few ideas to get your imagination jogging:
Oyster soup or a seafood chowder
A green salad with a zippy dressing
A cheese board
(try making this 7-day duck prosciutto!)
Oyster po' boys (deep fried oyster sandwiches)
Surf and turf
OYSTER GARNISHES (THE CONDIMENTS)
Oyster purists are adamant that oysters are perfect just the way they are.
They can’t get enough of the natural briny goodness that’s as close as anyone is going to get to slurping up the sea.
Others, like me, need a little something extra.
My all-time favourite oyster condiment is a squeeze of lemon, and I’m telling you, all oyster parties need at least one lemon on site!
Other oyster condiments include…
this is a traditional oyster sauce that is comprised of red wine vinegar and finely diced shallots (a brunoise). Because oysters and acids pair beautifully together, there are many different spins on mignonette.
A splash of vodka makes for a yummy oyster. It's like a little briny shot!
I haven't tried this, but Big Papa swears by this!
: Some folks like adding a dash of Tabasco to their oysters. I've tried this and find it too overpowering, but we all have different tastes. I've heard that Sriracha is a good alternative to Tabasco, but haven't put it to the test yet.
Cocktail sauce: I've never had cocktail sauce with oysters, but apparently it's a thing. It makes sense though, it's seafood, right?
if you want to get real funky, you can try your hand at making a frozen garnish, like
BEST DRINKS FOR AN OYSTER PARTY
White wine and sparkling wine are the first options that come to mind when I have oyster parties on the brain, which I do because it’s presently October.
If anyone asks what they should bring to an oyster party, you have your answer!
Unless, of course, you want to make it a potluck style, and why not?
Parties are about gathering your favourite folks together and enjoying each other’s company, after all.
Cocktails are never out of place either, especially when oysters are involved.
One tip I recently got was reserving oyster brine to mix into caesars or bloody marys.
So get this, when you shuck your oysters, immediately drain the brine and reserve it.
When you drain the oyster, it will plump back up and be juicier than before.
Alternatively, you can garnish these more savoury cocktails with an oyster on the half shell; I’ve seen it done!
WHAT DO I DO WITH THE OYSTERS ONCE THEY’RE SHUCKED?
The first option that comes to mind is eating them, but that’s not always practical, especially if you have a room full of oyster-hungry guests!
You’ll need a way to plate them some way, right?
One thing that I see being done a lot is arranging oysters on beds of ice.
This not only keeps the oysters cool, but it also looks neat; however, ice melts, so if you go this route, make sure you have plenty of ice on hand!
The other option is to use oyster plates, which have little grooves to help keep them in place.
This is the route I go, but if you have any other ideas, please share them in the comments below!
NOW GET SHUCKING!
I hope this post has inspired you to pick up some oysters of your own!
Oyster parties seem like fancy affairs, but they really don’t need to be.
All you need is a couple of your favourite people, a couple of dozen oysters (or more!), a lemon, and a bottle of white. Simple, right?
Give it a try and let me know how it goes! Also, if you aren’t a stranger to oyster parties, I hope you’ll share some of your favourite tips and tricks!
SHOP THIS POST
OTHER PARTY IDEAS YOU MIGHT BE INTERESTED IN
OYSTER MIGNONETTE RECIPES
CLASSIC MIGNONETTE INGREDIENTS
1 shallot, finely diced (brunoise)
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
cracked black pepper to taste
CLASSIC MIGNONETTE INSTRUCTIONS
Mix the shallot and vinegar together
Season with black pepper to taste
BLOODY MARY MIGNONETTE INGREDIENTS
1 small tomato
1 tbsp vodka, tequila or gin
2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
3 dashes Tabasco sauce
1/4 tsp horseradish
juice of 1/2 a lemon
BLOODY MARY MIGNONETTE INSTRUCTIONS
Juice the tomato and finely dice the flesh.
Mix all the ingredients together.
Adjust the seasoning to taste, bearing in mind that the oyster brine will be adding to the salt profile.