1. Start by sorting through your oysters, they all should be tightly closed. Those that are open and will not close when tapped on a hard surface need to be discarded.
2. Give the oysters a quick wash in cold running water.
3. Hold the oyster down with a cloth against a flat surface.
4. Use an oyster knife with a hand guard, and insert the tip of the knife into the hinge of the oyster shell. Wiggle the knife and push it all the way inside the shell to break the hinge.
5. Angle the knife upwards as you push it in, so that you cut the abductor muscle which holds the oyster onto the top shell. Remove the top shell, keeping the bottom shell flat to conserve the oyster juices. Then cut the abductor muscle holding the oyster onto the bottom shell so that it is lying loose on the shell, ready for serving.
6. Serve the oysters immediately on a bed of crushed ice.
7. Pick the oyster shell up, keeping it flat so as not to spill the juices. Hold it so that the smooth edge of the shell is facing towards you.
8. Tip the shell up and let the oyster and its juices slide into your mouth.
Some people like to add a little flourish to oysters with one of the follow garnishes: lemon juice, chopped parsley, a dash of Tabasco, or even a drizzle of pink Champagne.