Oysters and the grill: perfect summertime companions
By Diane Lucius
Summer is grilling season in the Northwest. To be honest, most residents consider any dry day warmer than 55 degrees a perfect day to dust off the grill and throw steaks, chops, chicken or oysters on the fire. Oysters, with their buttery, soft texture and briny taste, are paired perfectly with the smoky flavor imparted by the grill.
Jeffery Hayes of Freshy’s Seafood in downtown Issaquah (located inside Fischer Meats) says 2012 is the perfect year for oysters. “The colder the year, the better the oysters. This year is perfect. Oysters are the silver lining behind that gray cloud cover,” he says. “Here, our oysters are a different species, making them really good all summer long.”
Washington is the largest producer of oysters in the country. Western Washington’s inlets and river deltas provide plenty of oyster habitat. Hayes notes that Puget Sound boasts at least 30 distinct oyster flavor profiles, all from the same kind of oysters. “Hood Canal Quilcenes will taste different than their cousin, the Hama Hama, because Quilcene’s are seeded at the mouth of a river. They taste less salty because the water they are raised in is half salt and half fresh,” he explains.
As for grilling, Hayes is quick to pick his favorites. Known for their metallic, sweet, briny flavor reminiscent of cucumber, Snow Creek or Pacific Beach oysters are a great choice when you are ready to fire up the grill. And you might be surprised to learn that oysters are actually very affordable, according to Hayes. “I recommend four oysters per person. With the price per dozen from $8 to $16, that makes oysters a pretty affordable luxury,” he states.
Grilling oysters is not exactly new. Perhaps you have enjoyed smoke-infused oysters still steaming after roasting them clam bake-style on the beach, right at the edge of the sound. Whatever your oyster experience, this is the time of year to clear your calendar, call your friends and plan a party around the grill, with the elegant oyster as star of the show!
Freshy’s Grilled Oysters
Pop oyster shell open without removing the entire shell. Place on grill for 4 minutes to allow the oyster to steam in its own shell. Spoon a teaspoon or two of mignonette sauce right into the shell with the grilled oyster.
Hayes recommends pairing the oysters with grilled peaches. Simply halve peaches, remove the pit and grill for 1 to 2 minutes. For the perfect beverage complement, Champagne, dry white wine, Pilsner or light lager beers are best.
2/3 cup red wine vinegar,
champagne vinegar or mirin
(rice wine, for an Asian twist)
3 tablespoons minced shallots
1 tablespoon coarsely ground pepper
Mix the vinegar, shallots and pepper in a small bowl. Stir and serve. ❖