Of the many - Many! - delicious things I've tossed on the grill over the years, I'll confess that oysters have never made it onto my summer barbecue menu.
It simply never occurred to me that my experience of this simple raw bar treat could be elevated by the application of a few flames.
That is, until I recently attended an oyster event at the South Beach Wine and Food Festival in Miami Beach. At this rooftop oyster outing, numerous chefs were offering up grilled oysters fresh off the flames.
One variation topped the oyster with a thick slab of chorizo and manchego cheese. Amazing. But my favorite was from Hung Huynh, the chef at Catch Miami and winner of the third season of Bravo's "Top Chef."
He topped the oysters with a sauce that was deeply savory and had just a bit of heat from jalapenos.
I decided I had to make them for myself, and that these oysters would make a fantastic starter for a cookout kicking off summer.
Grilled oysters with miso black beans and chili garlic
Start to finish: 15 minutes, plus shucking time
Makes 3 dozen oysters
3 tablespoons sesame oil
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
2 tablespoons chopped canned black beans
2 teaspoons dark miso
2 tablespoons minced red onion
1 tablespoon minced Peppadew peppers
1 tablespoon minced jalapeno peppers
1 tablespoon sliced scallions
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
1â 4 cup sake
1â 4 cup water, plus 1 tablespoon, divided
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3 dozen oysters
In a small skillet over medium-high, heat the oil until lightly smoking. Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add the ginger, then saute for another minute. Add the black beans, miso, red onion, Peppadews, jalapenos, scallions and cilantro. Saute for 1 minute, then stir in the oyster sauce, soy sauce, sugar, sake, 1â 4 cup of water and orange juice. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 2 minutes.
In a small glass, stir together the cornstarch and remaining 1 tablespoon of water. Stir into the sauce and cook, stirring, for another minute. The sauce will be very thick and chunky. Set aside.
Heat the grill to high.
Shuck the oysters, pouring off any extra juice and leaving the oyster in the bottom half of the shell. Top each oyster with 1 teaspoon of the sauce. Set the oysters directly on the grill grates and cook for about 30 seconds, or until just barely heated. Use tongs to carefully transfer the oysters (the shells will be hot) to a platter. Serve immediately.
Nutrition information per oyster: 25 calories; 10 calories from fat (40 percent of total calories); 1.5 g fat (0 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 5 mg cholesterol; 2 g carbohydrate; 0 g fiber; 0 g sugar; 1 g protein; 160 mg sodium.
(Recipe adapted from chef Hung Huynh at Catch Miami in Miami Beach, Florida)