Fire up your BBQ - Juicy, smoky and with a nice spicy kick, learn how to make the best grilled oyster for your Summer party!
Early this year I discovered the beautiful Miyajima Island, while travelling around Japan. This incredible place is known to have the best oysters in Japan and grilled oysters are one of their famous signature dishes.
These particular oysters are quite different from the most common french cousins. Tasty, rich and overall bigger in size, they are perfect over the grill as they don't dry out as quickly as the small ones and retain more their tasty juice.
How To Make Japanese Grilled Oysters?
To make grilled oyster you don't need more than fresh perfectly closed oysters and few basic ingredients depending on your taste: lemon, chili, shichimi pepper, soy sauce, ponzu sauce are the most common and tasty food pairings.
As simple as it seems, grilling oysters must be done right otherwise you end up wasting this precious ingredient.
Start by the grill, whether electric/gas/charcoal make sure it reaches a nice medium-high heat. A common technique is to grill the oysters in the shell without shucking, and they open as soon as they're cooked. This would probably save you a little time but in most cases you'll end up with overcooked oysters.
Slightly shuck the shells before grilling. Using an oyster shucking knife, place its tip at the base of the oyster hinge, twist the knife using pressure, then without the pressure, gently lever the knife upwards just until the two shells are 1/2 inch separated. Look at the oyster on the left, that's the width you want to reach ( the first oyster in the middle is just very slightly open but is not properly shown in the picture).
Place the oysters on the hottest part of the grill and allow to cook for 2 mins. Then you can gently remove the upside shell and continue to grill the oysters until they're done. Oysters will be perfectly cooked when they start to shrink a little and the edges caramelize a bit. Be careful when you remove them from the grill so you won't waste a single drop of their precious incredibly tasty juice, an explosion of umami flavour.
Use an oyster knife to cut muscles connecting oysters to shells, keeping cupped side down, trying to preserve as much liquid as possible.
Season with your favorite ingredients, ponzu sauce & shichimi are a must but you can simply enjoy them as you like. Ponzu sauce is a mix of soy sauce, citrus/yuzu juice, miri and dashi, you can make your own or buy a small bottle in any local asian shop. Shichimi t?garashi , literally seven flavor chili pepper, is a japanese spicy mix and goes beautifully with oysters. My other favorite ingredients to pair with grilled oysters are the evergreen wedge of lemon, a little miso, yuzu powder and juice (more info on yuzu here) or japanese vinegar.
Pick your oyster up with a small fork or skewer, eat it all up at once and quince your umami thirst with their juice.
That's me enjoying grilled oysters from a vendor in Miyajima. I would never thank him enough for showing & teaching me the traditional oyster grilling technique. I can tell you it was a precious gift. As much as I love raw oysters, this is by far my favorite way to enjoy oysters now. Once you try grilled oysters I promise there's no coming back.
Get your BBQ ready for the Summer and enjoy these amazing Japanese grilled oysters with all your friends!