How to open an oyster without a shucking knife, Filipino style

Goodness why would I even give this article that title. Filipinos are known to open oysters with their bare hands. OK. Maybe I am exaggerating but yes, we don’t usually open oysters with a shucking knife.

Shuck Knife by David Monniaux

Talaba is the Filipino word for oysters. The usual oyster-opener that I see in a “Talabahan” (Oyster Restaurants, usually located on beaches, remember there are more than 7,000 islands in the Philippines) is a brick nail or a any huge nail that is attached to a piece of wood. The pointy end of the nail is then hammered to a slim perfection for a precise penetration of oyster lining. Unfortunately I don’t have a picture of it. In households, guess what we use? Bare Hands. No, I’m just kidding, any small knife will do.

So in this episode of Prep, I will show you how we usually open oysters and open them safely. I would like to give a stress on safety. How many times have you heard on Philippine radio, a housewife that slashed her own stomach to a length and depth where her insides gushed happily onto the dinner table joining the oysters for a bloody revelry? I haven’t. Get out of this world, where do you live? You still have to be careful though.  So what do you need?

A kitchen cloth (to strangle yourself if you can’t even drill a small hole in it). I am saying kitchen cloth, because you need to have one. If you don’t have a piece of cloth dedicated for kitchen use, rip the very shirt that you are wearing on right now. Hmpf! You should have one.

A small knife.

Fresh live Oysters (what else are you gonna open? A can?). Do not buy oysters that are already opened because in this case, what you want to put in your mouth is a live animal. If it is open, it’s dead…. if you still buy and eat it, you can text-message-blast all your friends and family and say goodbye to them for good finally. Say hi to Peter for me.

Now, here’s how to open one.

1. Do not hold the oyster with your bare hands if you want to feel the skin on the face of your girlfriend later on. Do not even try to apply lotion before you do it because the possibility of your soft hand getting scraped is 1000%. Where’s that kitchen cloth? Place it on the surface, put your oyster on top of it and wrap the cloth around your oyster, leaving the top surface of your shell open for drilling.

2. Get your small knife, don’t even try to use a huge one because the possibility of you getting stabbed by yourself just got higher, genius. A coward Ninja would tend to open oysters with his Katana in an attempt to commit Ninjarakiri. See the sides of that oyster? You have to drill your knife in that oyster softly until you feel an opening. Softly. Do not twist your knife 360 degrees or you’ll get volcanic sediments inside the shell. People who eat oysters with even the smallest amount of their shells turn to mermaids… or mermen. You will lose your family jewels amigo.

Once you feel the sheath of your knife penetrate a glorious opening, hallelujah, turn the knife on one side to encourage the oyster to open itself up to you. A live oyster will fight for its life so you can feel a resistance when you open it. En Garde Militaire! Do the duel. Kill kill kill!

By the way, according to my research (while wiki-surfing):

While technically an animal, the oyster is considered by some ethicists to be an appropriate food choice for vegans and vegetarians, arguing it is acceptable to eat oysters, because in the relevant ethical terms they are rather closer to plants than animals. Two common ethical objections to the consumption of animals is that they feel pain (and that causing pain is wrong), and that their cultivation is environmentally harmful. On both of these, oysters are significantly closer to plants than animals. Regarding pain, oysters lack a central nervous system, and do not experience pain in the same way as humans do, with them and other bivalves being closer to mobile plants than to plant perception. Regarding environmental impact, 95% of oysters are sustainably farmed and harvested (other bivalves are frequently harvested by harmful dredging), feed on plankton (very low on the food chain), and in fact improve the marine environment by removing toxins. As such, oysters are listed as a “Best Choice” (highest rating) on the Seafood Watch list.

Eat that (I mean the oyster) you skin-tight-neon-shirt-wearing vegan!

3. The moment the oyster gives up its life to your sucking hole, the moment it will open up to the vulgarity of its death, it will leave you with its hearty juice and you do not want to waste that. Get a straw and suck. And tell me what it tastes like later. It’s a bit salty. Maybe a little more salty. It is actually really salty. But Filipinos suck that juice yeah. If you have iodine deficiency, I suggest you drink it. If you want to get it on the bed tonight, wear a thong and slurp that almighty juice of Don Juan de Marco. And ever so slowly eat that raw, fleshy, succulent, irresistible piece of scandalous meat.

This article is all fun and games until you actually open up one and find it a bit difficult. Filipinos do not experience that difficulty. You know why? Because most of us do not eat oysters raw. A cooked oyster cannot fight for the death of it, you won’t have to moan or grunt. The way Filipinos prepare their oysters before a ravishing consumption is so easy and Talabalicious. I’ll tell you about it next time. See you later heavyweighter!

Click here to know how Filipino in the Philippines would usually prepare, cook and eat their oysters.



Author: Ziggy

Ziggy grew up in the "dirty kitchen" of his grandmother. Literally. He would spend his pre-school days watching her cook crazy Filipino food. His love for food set him up in a journey through the kitchens of the Philippines to chef-swearing laden restaurants of Melbourne where he has worked mainly as a dishwasher, stockist, searcher of missing ingredients, deep frier of everything, arranger of antipasti on a supposed to be chopping board, kitchen cart surfer, emergency pastry chef, take-the-pans-we're-on-a-ciggy-break, chefs' cook of take home food, salad scientist and quite a number of mundane everyday things in the kitchen. Are you still reading this? He has quit that 1pm to 3am job now that he has learned to write. thus this site came to existence.

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  1. So, yeah, here we are in Okinawa, always diggin the seafood, We know a fishing charter captain who brings us wonderful delicacies from the seas on a regular basis. This time we got 60 fresh HUGE oysters from Hokkaido, Japan which we will be happily be munching out on in just a lil while. So!; naturally.. as I am 1/2 Philippina, I decided to check this site out because my husband asked me if I still knew how to shuck oysters. I worked in an oyster bar in Detroit in the 80’s and it’s been quite some time, although I do still have a very nice scar on my left inside wrist from MANIACALLY schucking oysters for a very hurried demanding crowd of drunken Detroiters that will always be a reminder of the days when I was young enough to still be allowed by my boss to drink with my customers and dance on the bar and tables. They called me “The Waitress From Hell” and even had a shirt specially embroidered for me with that name on it. On the back was emblazoned “Eat it Raw”.. (hehe.. I think I was thinking the same thing the night before last) Oh, yes, the good ol days!!! Well, just want to thank you for this entertaining but educational article. I am sure this is something I wish I had known 30 years ago! I made A LOT of great tips, more than anybody there, but I probably could have bought that place if I did not wish to blow that pop stand and head out west to New Mexico to become a year round Harley Ridin’ jalepeno farmer and raise my two teenage girls in the middle of nowhere to avoid any unplanned early parenthood. It works if you work it! Have a Happy Holiday! Now, lemme go get him a kitchen towel and one of my many teeny machete’s all good lil Philippina’s are born with between thier teeth. ( That’s what the Lady from Manila who gave birth to me, Mi Madre’, told me)


  1. myfilipinokitchen » Blog Archive » Do Aphrodisiacs in the Philippines Really Work? - [...] And click here for a 2-part series about Philippine Oysters [...]

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