How to Barbecue Oysters
Oysters, a Grilled Treat!
I'm a huge fan of fresh oysters. Typically, I shuck them and eat them raw with a little Tapatio sauce and maybe some fresh lemon juice. However, this weekend I was introduced to barbecued oysters. Oysters are beautifully simplistic to grill and taste profoundly different than slurping them raw from the shell. Plus, since oysters are grilled in the shell, the only preparation is starting the grill!
Selecting Oysters to Grill
There are a handful of oysters available commercially that are ideal for barbecuing. For barbecuing, I recommend the large or jumbo sized Pacific Oyster that are grown in the Willapa Bay of Washington. Willapa bay is some of the cleanest water used for growing oysters. For people on the East Coast, Bluepoint oysters from Rhode Island are robust and large enough to barbecue, although I suggest avoiding the Virginia Bluepoints since they tend to be more bland in my experience.
A little know fact about oysters is that they come in different sizes. The raw ones at the fresh seafood market are likely smalls. Baked oysters are usually mediums and for barbecuing, I recommend larges or jumbos. The small ones don't do well on the grill. Mainly because they shrivel up and dry out. As opposed to the large ones that tend to have more fluid and juices that keep them moist while they cook. However, since most people eat oysters raw, and those are traditionally small oysters, it's a bit more difficult to find the larger ones for barbecuing.
The ideal size for grilling oysters is about three to four inches long and about one to two inches deep. Pacific Oysters have a curved bottom side to their shell with a relatively flat top. The spoon shape actually does very well when placed on a grill.
Tips for BBQ Oysters
- Only fresh oysters should be grilled
- Purchase large or jumbo oysters for grilling
- Have oysters packed in ice at the time of purchase
- People's appetite for oysters vary. As an appetizer, plan on three to four oysters per person. A real oyster lover can eat over a dozen:)
Order Oysters to BBQ Online
Grilling the Oysters
Grilling oysters is just about the simplest meat I've ever grilled.
- Heat the grill to a hot temperature of around 400 degrees.
- Oysters are grilled over direct heat.
- Place the oysters directly over the flames with the flat side of the shell up.
- Close or cover the barbecue.
- Let the oysters cook for 10 minutes for large and jumbo sizes. For medium oysters grill them for 7 minutes.
Shucking the BBQ Oysters
If you're not experienced at shucking oysters, the sharp shells can be a bit dangerous. I actually sliced my thumb pretty bad opening one of the oysters. However, a really cool thing about oysters on the grill is they open up like when you steam clams or muscles. After the oysters have been on the grill, they open up about 1/4 of an inch and a pairing knife can be used to peel the top shell.
Shucking Hot Oysters
To shuck a hot oyster use:
- Shucking knife
- Neoprene oven mitt
Oysters come off the grill extremely hot.
1. Place all the oysters in a large bowl.
2. Put the hot mitt on your hand
3. Holding the oyster firmly in the hand with the mitt, place the shucking knife between the fluted part of the shell where the top and bottom come together and push and twist at the same time. (This takes practice)
4. As the knife slides in, bring it around the top of the shell to sever the oyster from the shell.
5. Serve out of the bottom shell
Serving the Oysters
Here are three ways to serve barbecued oysters
- Fresh cocktail sauce (I mix my own with a 1/4 cup catchup, fresh squeezed lemon and horseradish to taste)
- Melted butter with garlic or lemon
- Tapatio sauce with lemon
Using a small fork, remove the oyster from the shell and dip into your favorite sauce. Enjoy!