Living on the Gulf Coast has its perks. The ability to garden nearly year-round, swimming the afternoon before Thanksgiving, and having access to some of the freshest seafood anywhere.
The trade-off is hurricane season, mosquitoes the size of rats, and wicked humidity.
We deal. There’s usually booze involved. But we deal.
Oysters are among my husband’s very, very favorite seafood. Since the Texas oyster grounds recently reopened, we’ve been able to get our hands on some pretty fantastic (and reasonably priced!) oysters. Our favorite sushi place serves them grilled, but topped with scary amounts of garlic. At home, we can get just a bit of that smokey flavor in the oysters before pulling them off the grill. And then we top them with some monterrey jack cheese, pico de gallo, and eat each one with a squeeze of fresh lime juice.
It’s one frozen margarita away from summer.
It is important to follow proper handling procedures when it comes to oysters – they must be alive before you cook them. Dead oysters can harbor some pretty nasty toxins and bacteria. Any oysters that are opened before cooking should close when you tap on their shell with the back of a spoon or when you squeeze them. If they don’t close or won’t stay closed, they’re dead – toss them, they’re not safe to eat. Any oysters that do not open during the cooking process, they’re dead – toss them, they’re not safe to eat.
Grilled Oysters with Pico de Gallo
Grilled oysters with pico de gallo and monterrey jack cheese
- 2 roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
- 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
- 1 large jalapeno, seeded and chopped
- Handful of cilantro, chopped
- 3 limes
- 18-24 oysters, scrubbed clean (see note above about safe handling of oysters)
- 1/2 cup shredded monterrey jack cheese
- To make the pico de gallo, stir the chopped tomatoes, red onion, jalapeno, cilantro together in a bowl with the juice of 1 lime and a pinch of salt and pepper.
- Slice the remaining 2 limes into thin wedges for serving.
- Heat grill to high.
- Place closed oysters on the grill and cook covered, 5-7 minutes or until opened (smaller oysters will open in ~5 minutes, larger ones might take a few more minutes).
- Remove to a platter and let cool slightly.
- If any of the oysters remain closed, throw them out - they are not safe to eat.
- Preheat the broiler.
- Using a dull knife, pry the shells completely open and discard the top shell.
- Top each shell with a pinch of shredded jack and place on an oven-safe dish/baking pan (covering the bottom with something like dry beans, uncooked rice, or salt will keep the oysters from sliding around or tipping over).
- Broil for ~1 minute, just to melt the cheese.
- Top with a spoonful of pico and serve immediately, with extra lime wedges.
Yields: 3-4 servings, or 9-12 appetizers
Estimated time: 45 minutes