Grilled Oysters

I’m a big fan of raw oysters on the half shell. But, every now and then, cooked oysters make their way into my dinner plans … like today. Why? Two reasons: One it’s National Oyster Day (August 5) and two, it just so happens that the planets aligned and a friend brought us some oysters from her fishing trip last weekend. I know, the chances : ) LOL. Anyway, one of the easiest ways to cook oysters is to grill them in their shells. In other words, you don’t have to do any prepping other than make a sauce to serve them with. No shucking needed as the oyster shells literally “pop” open when they’re cooked—they steam inside their shells, recipe below. But first, here’s five fun facts about oysters.

By law, oysters are sold live (as are mussels and clams). The shells should be tightly shut—discard any with open or broken shells.

  1. Only eat oysters during months with the letter “R.” When water is warm—i.e. the summer months—there is a higher prevalence of the marine bacteria known as Vibrio vulnificus… but, MOST* people aren’t susceptible to infection from the bacteria and are free to enjoy the little mollusks 356 days a year.
  2. There are boy mollusks and girl mollusk. True, but both male and female oysters have gonads which produce both eggs and sperm—which means they are hermaphrodites and can change gender if they want to. Easy Peasy.
  3. It’s ALIVE. Or is it? If you’ve enjoyed the delicacy on the half shell, then yes, chances are the little creatures are still alive. But that’s OK. It means they’re fresh … and no one wants to eat an oyster that’s been “living” in a fridge for weeks on end.
  4. Oysters have gills.Oysters are like fish in that they take oxygen from water as it passes through their gills, and discard the carbon monoxide. And, believe it or not, the little guys (and gals) also have hearts, kidneys, stomachs and intestines. Who knew!
  5. Oysters are an aphrodisiac. Well, the famed 18th-century lover Casanova ate 50 oysters for breakfast every morning. Seemed to work for him, but the official verdict is still out.

Grilled Oysters

  • A few pounds of fresh oysters
  • 1-2 sticks of butter, melted
  • 7-8 heads of garlic, minced
  • ½ cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • Juice from one lemon
  • Tabasco

Heat grill to just over medium. You don’t want it too hot … on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the hottest, aim for a 6.5. VERY IMPORTANT: Place the oysters cup side down with the hinge closest to the grill opening just in case there are any that want to “explode” off the grill grates. This way they’ll “shoot” towards the back of the grill. I’ve never had it happen, but it’s a possibility so better to be safe than sorry. Close the grill lid and let cook for 10-15 minutes. The bigger the oysters, the longer the time needed to cook. You’ll know when they’re done because the shells will “pop” open, not completely open, but enough that you’ll be able to tell. That’s all there is to it. Remove from the grill and pry open with an oyster knife. Serve as is or with your favorite dipping sauce. I like a combination of Tabasco with lemon, garlic, fresh parsley and melted butter. Just melt butter (clarified is best), add garlic, parsley and lemon then drizzle over oysters. People can add Tabasco as they see fit. Enjoy!

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