We just got back from Edisto Island, South Carolina, a place we often go. It is quiet and beautiful, not Myrtle Beach or Hilton Head, both of which suck beyond imagination and I feel sorry for anyone who spends their money at either. This was one of the most laid back vacations I’ve ever had and needed it badly (so did Lynn). First vacation we have been on since I came back from the middle east wars a year ago.
Anyway, on the way home, we stopped at Flower’s Seafood, best fish market on the island and the best prices. We bought three pounds of local shrimp, a couple nice filets of red snapper, and a half bushel of Edisto oysters. Tons of ice in a cooler for the three-hour ride home.
I knew Edisto oysters were different, no nice single shells. I’ve seen them at low tide. Haven’t had the guts to go out and harvest them myself. They are clusters harvested with a hammer and chisel, one cluster might have four or five oysters. They are rough and unkempt, primitive, really. If any oyster can be called more primitive than others, these are the ones.
Anyway, we like oysters steamed, partly because they are a hell of a lot easier to shuck after being steamed. These puppies would be hell
to shuck raw. We made three batches. I am full as a pig and could probably eat more. Here is how we did it. This works for any oysters.
Oven steamed oysters
Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Put an oven pan in the oven to get hot. Yeah, lots of oven mitts are good, here. Clean off any debris or mud from the oysters and place raw oysters on a rack or elevated platform with holes that will fit in the oven pan.
Once oven is hot, take out the oven pan and add about a cup of water and throw in some beer. Place the rack with the oysters in the pan and cover with heavy tin foil. I guess you could use the traditional wet burlap bag if you wanted, but the foil keeps the steam contained on the oysters.
Cook for ten minutes and take out the pan. Remove the foil and check to see if the oysters have opened slightly. Usually, only a few will not have opened a bit. Using tongs, places oysters on another pan for eating. Opening the Edisto oysters can be as simple as using hands (assuming you let them cool down a bit) or a screwdriver. Some of them open better from the back with the screwdriver. Others just pop open. Doesn’t matter. You can put some back in for a couple of minutes if it looks like they haven’t opened like you want, but we are talking thin openings, not wide open mussels. And no matter, they are cooked enough, especially as you could have eaten them raw. The hardest ones to open have the most sea water flavor and are the best just to eat plain. They are seriously wonderful.
Normally, I put hot sauce on mine. Lynn likes cocktail sauce. Some use lemon, some nothing at all and anything really goes. These oysters we bought yesterday were so fresh and tasty today, I can’t wait to pull out the rest tomorrow. They last a few days in the fridge if you get them fresh. These are some of the best oysters I have ever had anywhere.