Prying open an oyster shell to reveal the sweet and briny core is no easy feat, especially considering there are countless varieties of shell shapes and sizes. According to Fred Carpenter, a knifemaker at Cape Cod Cutlery, there are more than 130 different kinds of oyster knives in the world, each subtly adapted to deal with a local bivalve and its obstinate shell. One such tool that has won over many a shucker for its form and function is the Boston Stabber.
Despite the blood-thirsty branding, the Boston Stabber (the “Boston” for short) is an elegant knife with beveled, dull edges, and a narrow blade, appreciated for its handle’s slender mid-section and thumb-stabilizing, bulbous ends. The knife fits in the palm comfortably, allowing for easy gripping, an especially important feature for professional shuckers, who may pry open more than 1,000 oysters per shift. Practiced shuckers deftly wield their knives, slipping the blade into the oyster shell, popping the hinge, and carefully sliding the knife to separate the adductor muscle, all while preserving the sweet liquid within and keeping shell “shrapnel” at bay.
Making a well-crafted Boston involves extra heating and cooling steps to ensure that the tip is strong and resilient, with the best high-carbon steel blades lasting a lifetime. Boston Stabbers can feature long blades for larger oysters, or sturdy, shorter blades. The latter fit inside screw top jars often used to measure and store the day’s harvest by those collecting in public oyster beds (where only the insides can be harvested and the shells must be left behind). Their handles also range from functional plastic or rubber to ornately handled works of art. Restrained or rococo, the Boston Stabber is as elegantly engineered as the oyster is extravagantly edible.
Need to Know
This shucker can still live up to its name: Novices should use a towel, proceed with caution, and mind the palm.
Where to Try It
Cape Cod Cutlery31 Timber Ln, Marstons Mills, Massachusetts, 02648, United States
Cape Cod Cutlery is open Monday and Wednesday 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Its tools, including the Boston Stabber, can be found at select Farmers' Markets throughout Cape Cod and trade shows throughout Massachusetts. Check their website for exact places and dates.