Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Grilled Oysters

One of the best and most unusual dishes in New Orleans is the grilled oyster: an oyster, on the half shell, grilled over an open flame. Very simple; amazingly good. And very popular in NOLA. Drago's in Fat City is probably the most famous practitioner of the art form, and you can watch the cooks shucking and sliding the oysters onto the grill from the bar area; great entertainment, and delicious bar food. I don't know if it's a New Orleans original, or whether perhaps the Croatian oystermen who founded so many of New Orleans' great oyster joints (Drago's, Uglesich's, etc.) came up with it. Doesn't matter. Delicious.

But very difficult to find in Houston. (Gilhooley's is the best-known exception.) Fortunately, with Gulf oysters cheap and delicious and easily had, you can make them yourself. I drove down to Captain Wick's, in Seabrook, and bought a 100-count sack of fresh San Leon oysters for $20. (That's a fine deal, by the way, for briny, plump oysters from the best spot on the Texas coast.) Then I made a basic garlic butter sauce with minced raw garlic, melted butter, olive oil, red chili flakes, black pepper, and a little Tony Chachere's. Shuck the oysters, place them half-shell down on the grill, and baste with a little sauce. Once the edges curl and the oysters plump up, they done. A little Parmesan to finish is optional -- but make sure it's the cheapo fake Parmesan in the green can. (I don't know why that's so important, but it is.)

(Thanks to houseguest extraordinaire Mo for the pic.)