Light and Lively Grilled Oysters

Once you get them shucked, this is as simple as it gets, and memorable for any gathering!

May is the month of my mother’s birth, her death, Mother’s Day, and, of course, here we are in the middle of Memorial Day Weekend, my thoughts turning to all of those who are no longer here: my father, my brother, and most recently my sister, plus many other relatives and friends. I thought I would honor my mom by featuring one of her absolute favorite foods – oysters.

Her favorites

      It’s in my genes. Because they were her favorites, she had lots of recipes using them. My Aunt Elda lived by the shore, and would bring us oysters by the bushel basket, literally. I have fond memories of mom and her sisters sitting around said basket, slurping these delicacies with sheer delight. There was always enough to make something else with them, a baked oyster casserole perhaps, or a chowder.

We’ve yet to find a pearl

But her favorite was straight from the shell, always with a joke about looking for a pearl. My grandchildren have followed the example, so I’m teaching them to be experts at shucking. You never know when you’ll find that pearl, yours to keep.

Essence of the sea

When we taste an oyster, we taste the sea, pure and simple. There is nothing that can transport me to the shore better than a plump oyster, fresh from the shell, preferably with just a squeeze of lemon. Add a glass of Prosecco and a friendly companion, and all is well in the universe. Truly.

A light touch in cooking

      But some prefer their oysters cooked, so this is one of my favorite ways to offer them up, lightly dressed for the charcoal grill, with plenty of flavor. Don’t bury the oysters in a cream sauce, or cover them up with stuffing and spinach and bacon! Let the little bivalves shine in their splendor.

Practice makes perfect

      Shucking oysters is not hard, but it does take a little practice. You will need a very sharp, sturdy knife or thin-headed screwdriver, and if you plan to cook a lot of them, a protective glove is handy. My son bought me two, I think he was worried I would hurt myself, or maybe he did not want the job. There are plenty of YouTube vides available to demonstrate shucking better than I can write here, including this one from a great New England icon Legal Seafoods in Boston. Shucking oysters. They know their seafood there!

Know your source

      Buy your oysters from a reputable fish source and always ask when they came in to the store. Ask where they are from as well. We generally get our oysters from Maine and Massachusetts, but sometimes New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Connecticut lend their harvests to the local shops. I have one vendor who enjoys getting some exotics in now and then. By exotic, I mean west coast. West coast oysters have a completely different flavor than east coast, but they are still delicious. But being a localvore, I enjoy our New England oysters best. There is also a Maine source that has cultivated oysters from a French strain, and those are superb too!

Same oyster, different terroir

For the most part, east coast oysters are all the same species, but they vary markedly in flavor depending on the unique terroir of where they are raised. The waters, the soils, other marine life, maybe even the phase of the moon, etc., all contribute to the great variety of flavors, and there are lots of oyster snobs out there! Did I say snobs? Oh, sorry, I meant connoisseurs.

Store them with care

After you get them home, they will store for a few days, in the refrigerator, covered with a damp towel. Always store them flat side up, so no moisture will leak from the oyster’s bowl-shape. You don’t want to lose that precious liquor.

      I’ve used a charcoal grill here, but broiling works fine; you just won’t get the smoky flavor.

Light and Lively Grilled Oysters

Yes, there are two missing. Chef’s treat.
  • 12 oysters
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • Dry white wine or lemon juice
  • Crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tbsp. fresh parsley, minced
  • Freshly finely grated Parmesan

      Shuck the oysters, and bestow upon yourself a reward of one or two raw oysters for your hard work. Cook’s treat. Place in an oyster tray, or a sheet tray nestled in crumbled aluminum foil, taking care not to tip the precious liquor from the shells.

      Sprinkle just a tiny bit of garlic on each oyster, followed by a teaspoon or so of white wine, and just a few crushed red pepper flakes. Sprinkle parsley over all, and grate the Parmesan lightly. This should all be minimum, so the oysters shine through.

      Grill or broil for five to 6 minutes, depending on size, or until the cheese is melted, and serve! Don’t overcook.

Sylvia LaFlamme Grover, my beautiful mom, on her 75th birthday

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73 Comments Add yours

  1. A very lovely remembrance of your mother. And her last name — LaFlamme — indicates she was Franco-American. Did she speak French?

    1. My grandparents were French-Canadian, and French was their first language. Mom spoke a little, and I studied in school, conversing frequently with my uncle who lived across the road.

      1. My heritage is also French Canadian. However, that was many generations ago. Even so, French was my mother’s first language, and unfortunately, except for a few phrases, I don’t speak French at all.

      2. What French family names are you related to Laurie? My grandmothers maiden name was Martel.

      3. My French family names are Meunier, Jacques, and Dansereau. I have heard of Martel, and somehow I associate it with an Acadian name. Was your grandmother of Acadian descent?

      4. Quebec, both sides settled there in the 1600s. Ile d’orleans.

  2. Lovely tribute to family members lost but not forgotten … especially your mom. ❤︎
    Oysters are among my favorites – whether chilled in the half-shell or fried in a po’ boy.
    An ice cold prosecco and I’m all set! 🦪 🥂

    1. We may have been separated at birth!

      1. Hahaha!! I thought that also!

  3. Anonymous says:

    I’m definitely going to try my Maine oysters (fresh from Damariscotta THE BEST!!) on the grill this summer, great idea, Dorothy. Love the platter; my half-French mum had a houseful of Quimper-ware.
    Thank you for sharing your mum with us.

    1. Not Anonymous—it’s me but WordPress was having a moment 😳

      1. I don’t know why it keeps doing that! It happens with you and a couple of others as well. So I just have to guess!

    2. Thanks for stopping by Amie! tossing them on the grill is the easiest thing in the world, and so delicious with that kiss of smoke!

  4. Sheree says:

    Love oysters 🦪

    1. They are the best!

      1. Sheree says:


  5. Such a fun post to read Dorothy. I learned so much! It’s hard to get fresh seafood this far north.

    1. Thanks! I’m lucky that there are some really good fish markets around here.

  6. Lifetime Chicago says:

    I did not know about oysters….thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks for stopping by!

  7. Anonymous says:

    I usually prefer fresh oysters with nothing on, but i no doubt would love this nonetheless, as it is so delicate and far from overpowering. 🙂

    1. I’m with you, straight up is best. But these are also really delightful, and everyone can be happy.

  8. Ronit says:

    I lover fresh oysters, and would love this, as it is so delicate and far from overpowering. 🙂

    1. Thanks Ronit! I like the oyster to be the star of the show! They get easily lost.

  9. Kevin says:

    Lovely memories to share, thank you.

    1. Thanks for stopping by!

  10. Bernadette says:

    Your Mom must be smiling.

  11. I love oysters but not raw. 🤣 I enjoyed all the information about oysters, I learned something new. What a beautiful picture of your mom Dorothy!!

    1. Thank you! She was a special lady!

  12. Angela says:

    Hi Dorothy. Thanks for your post. I haven’t been keeping up lately or blogging because my sister died unexpectedly about three weeks ago, and my heart is completely broken and torn up. I keep trying to imagine blogging, but feel like it’s still too soon, or that I would become too sad in my post. So when I saw your mentioning of all of your losses, and most recently your sister, I wanted to reach out to you. I am so very sorry for your losses, and the loss of a sister is particularly brutal. You might have inspired me to get back to my blog, hard as it seems. I enjoyed reading your post, and hearing about your memories of you mom and *her* sisters – so very sweet. Thanks again.

    1. Thank you so much Angela! My heart is still badly broken, and her death was also unexpected. The memories help, but it is just going to take time.
      I know what you are going through, and I wish there were words. I’m thinking of you and holding you in my heart. You will know when it is time to put yourself out there again!

      1. Angela says:

        Thank you Dorothy. I wish we were neighbors!

      2. We can be cyber neighbors!

  13. Mary says:

    Your Mum and her sisters had the right idea. Shuck the oyster , squeeze of lemon juice and into the mouth. What a gift!!
    As a kid, when the waters were not so polluted you could sit on a rock and knock the top off the shell and just eat the oyster shaken in the sea water. Bliss :))

    1. That sounds like an amazing memory! The best way to eat then!

  14. Eha says:

    What a lovely post and warm tribute! *laugh* I don’t think there are many Australians who do not love our wonderful oysters to bits! Since 85% of us live within a 2-hour drive of the coast the wondrous beasties are usually pretty accessible – and most of us buy them already freshly shucked. I tend to be a bit of a purist . . . . eat them as they come with a glass or two of a dry white Aussie wine . . . oysters Bercy, somewhat similar to this being second choice! Have a great holiday weekend!!!

    1. You too Eha! We New Englanders love our oysters as well, such a precious taste of the sea. A little dry white wine, or something sparkly, is a perfect companion!
      Here in New England we have sunshine for our holiday weekend, and I’m planning to be outside as much as possible!

  15. They look delicious and your plate is lovely!

    1. Thank you Elaine! It’s one of my favorites, and it has also doubled as deviled egg plate in a pinch!

  16. Lovely picture of your Mom, and happy long weekend. I know for sure those gathered at your home will be treated to culinary delights.

    1. Thanks Judy! It will be a little more quiet than usual this year, grandson is here. But we’re going to cook out, plant some rose bushes, and enjoy this lovely weather.
      How about you? I’m sure you’ll be in the garden!

  17. Thanks Dorothy! Love the suggestion of rewarding yourself with one or two raw oysters!

    1. Always the Cook’s treat! The two purveyors I use the most usually slip a couple extra in the bag for the cook!

  18. nancyc says:

    What a nice way to remember your mom, with a recipe of one of her favorite dishes–and how nice that your Aunt Elda had the experience of growing up by the shore—the sea shore life sounds wonderful! 🙂

    1. Mom was the baby of the family of 10, and Aunt Elda was the oldest, like a second mother to her. All her life, Mom fondly remembered summers with her at the shore, I think one of the most special times of her life.

      1. Angela says:

        Dorothy, this warms my heart.

      2. Thank you! They had a special relationship.

  19. Christy B says:

    Dorothy, this is a beautiful tribute to your mom. I hope you take some quiet time for yourself this weekend. Sending much love xx

    1. Yes, everyone is out, and I actually have the house to myself, and the dogs of course! Hope you get some relaxation in as well.

  20. It’s so good to eat oysters. Best of luck in finding a pearl!

    1. Thank you! I’ll keep looking for sure!

  21. Your mother sounds like a special one! And you made my heart sing with – “When we taste an oyster, we taste the sea, pure and simple. There is nothing that can transport me to the shore better than a plump oyster, fresh from the shell, preferably with just a squeeze of lemon. Add a glass of Prosecco and a friendly companion, and all is well in the universe. Truly.”

    1. Thank you! It’s so true! Luckily, many of my life companions enjoy these treats as much as I do!

  22. Julia says:

    I love fried oysters and can eat them until I about pop. I have discovered several pearls over the years, and even one that could have been valuable, if it hadn’t been cooked.

    1. Oh no! A cooked pearl! I hope you didn’t break a tooth!

      1. Julia says:

        I was lucky and didn’t break my tooth. I was rather surprised.

  23. ckennedy says:

    This looks wonderful–perfect for summer! We live in the Pacific Northwest, so there are lots of good options. Cheers!

    1. Enjoy those tasty west coast oysters!

  24. Straight from the shell is my favourite too but back in Victorian times in UK they were added to our traditional steak & kidney pudding to fill it out as they were so cheap then. They’re not cheap now! I love that beautiful plate – perfect for serving them.

    1. Thank you!
      Such abundance! I know that here the household servants had contracts that spelled out that oysters were not to be served to them more than twice a week!

  25. NativeNM says:

    What a lovely tribute to your mom. When I joined the Cook family I was introduced to many seafood dishes that I had never tasted before, one being oysters. I love them! Having them fresh like you do would be such a treat!

    1. Thanks Jan! I adore them, and freshly shucked is best. Still haven’t tried all my mom’s other recipes, some of which I don’t even remember!

  26. Aoc says:

    I have yet to try raw oysters. I love your prep and flavors.

    1. Ah, you don’t know what you are missing! Give them a try, you’ll be hooked!

  27. terrie gura says:

    Your oysters sound perfectly lovely! We have a fab seafood restaurant near us that does char-grilled oysters and they are always amazing. Perhaps I must learn to shuck them so we can do them at home!

    1. It’s such a fun and wonderful task, almost zen-like. Maybe I’ll reach you, so you can share in the fun!!! Maybe, I’ll even let you shuck them all…

  28. Grilling oysters is a great way to introduce people to oysters before going all the way (i.e. raw).

    1. LOL , Agreed! And going all the way is best introduced with the tiniest, sweetest ones possible!

  29. PS love that you have a custom tray for grilling oysters!

    1. We adore oysters here, so it was one of my indulgences!

  30. Leah says:

    Hi Dorothy, I really enjoyed your reading your post about oysters. What a lovely tribute to your love ones as well and a lovely writing to honor your mom. I love, love, love oysters! Having grown up in the Philippines, fresh oysters were always available.I remember eating them as a kid during our summer excursions to the beach. Traditionally, we ate oysters fresh dipped in vinegar, onions and chili peppers before popping them in our mouth. Even though I would not say no to oysters no matter how they were prepared, it will always be fresh oysters for me. You captured it articulately when you said that we taste the sea when we eat oysters! Fresh oysters bring me to the sea even if eating them at a restaurant away from the shore. 🙂

    1. Dear Leah,Thank you! I’m am so glad I was able to tickle some childhood memories for you with this one, I know writing it brought back a lot of good things for me as well.
      There is something really primal about eating an oyster straight up, the taste of the sea, the salt water, the sweetness of the oyster, it all works so beautifully. Add a little glass of white wine, and life is indeed good.

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