One of my favorite ways to eat oysters (especially those strongly flavored big ones) is grilled. Guest author Jaden shares a personal lesson from the Shuckmeister on how to do it. Enjoy! ~Elise
Even though I live all the way on the other side of the country, I think I see Elise more often than I see some of my neighbors. Just this year alone, we've been to Seattle, Chicago, Bahamas and twice to San Francisco!
Since I talk in my sleep and Elise sings in her sleep, we make excellent traveling companions. I just feel sorry for any hotel guests who share adjoining walls with us!
On our last trip to San Francisco, we participated in the Foodbuzz Festival. The first night was sort of like a street food party, where the best of the best San Francisco street food carts came and camped out right in front of the Ferry Building.
About 200 hungry hungry hippos (i.e. food bloggers) came to enjoy the pulled pork sandwiches, thin-crusted pizzas, local beers and oysters.
Oh oysters galore! Hog Island Oyster Company brought hundreds of Kumamoto Oysters and Small Sweetwater Oysters! Their "shuckmeister" shucked and served...Elise and I slurped and swooned.
We got to talking with the Shuckmeister (forgot his name) about grilled oysters, a popular way to enjoy oysters in the SF Bay Area, especially in Tomales Bay.
There are several ways you can make their grilled oysters - it all depends on your ability to shuck a raw oyster (Shuckmeister made it look really easy...but it takes a ton of practice) and how big your oysters are. I'll give you all of the options!
Tips for Grilling Oysters
If you can find large, fat oysters, you can place the oysters directly on the grill grates. It's best to wear long, sturdy BBQ gloves so you can handle the oysters by hand instead of using tongs, spoons or spatula.
However, if the oysters are small and flat, you'll run the risk of spilling its valuable, flavorful juices as well as the garlic-butter sauce.
You can do what I've done, which is to place the oysters on a bed of rock salt or rice in a small pan -- and then placing the entire pan inside the grill or under a broiler. This steadies the oysters and prevents them from wobbling.
I know for sure that Hog Island doesn't put their oysters on a bed of rice! But the rice helps steady the oysters and prevents the flavorful sauce and juices from spilling. Of course, I only used rice because I didn't have any rock salt in the house. You can use either, or if you're able to balance the oysters on the grill grates, go for it!
- 16 whole live oysters
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon chili pepper flakes (or substitute with dashes of Tabasco)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- cracked black pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon finely minced parsley
Make the sauce:
Heat a small sauce pan over medium-low heat. When hot, add the olive oil and the butter. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the lemon juice, chili pepper flakes, salt, pepper and parsley. Turn off heat.
Shuck and grill the oysters:
If you are a shuckmeister: Shuck the oysters, spoon a little sauce in each oyster. Place oysters on a very hot, preheated grill, cover and cook for 5-6 minutes or until the edges of oysters curl slightly.
If you can't shuck: Place the oysters, cup side up on a very hot, preheated grill, cover and cook for 1 minute. The oysters should now be slightly open. Quickly remove the oysters.
Hold an oyster with an oven mitt and use a shucking knife (or a clean screwdriver if you don't have one) to pry open the oyster. It should easily open.
Spoon sauce into each oyster and return oysters to the grill. Cover and grill 4-5 minutes.
How to Grill Oysters video from Eating Richly
The Big Oyster: History on the Half Shell - terrific book about the history of New York City from the perspective of the oyster business, by Michael Kurlansky, author of Salt: A World History and Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World