When there is a seafood market selling oysters you can bet we will pick up a dozen or two and put them on the menu. Baked oysters are our preference. Let me back up . . . that is the ONLY way we will eat them. Raw oyster lovers will always ask, “have you tried them raw?” And to that I answer, “why yes I have.”
When working as a wildlife biologist in southeast Louisiana (the Mississippi River Delta to be precise) I had the opportunity to go out on an oyster boat and witness firsthand the harvesting process. It was really quite fascinating. While oysters were traditionally harvested with large tongs, “dredging’ is the most common harvesting method in Louisiana today. Dredges are essentially large rakes with a basket pulled along the water bottom that dislodge the oysters from the “bed” and catches them in the basket. The dredge is hoisted out of the water and the contents are dumped on a sorting table. Undersized oysters are tossed back and the others will be sold. The man I was with was very proud of his fishing heritage and would not trade his way of life with anyone. If you have ever met a commercial fisherman you know this is a common thread.
After demonstrating and explaining the harvesting process, our host shucked open a few of the briney bivalves and offered tastes as a show of hospitality. His eyes caught mine and I saw his outstretched arm with a handful of his pride and livelihood in the form of an oyster. He asked if I had ever tried a raw oyster and convinced me that there was no better oyster to eat than the one freshly dredged from the sea bed eaten on an oyster boat in Louisiana waters. I obliged. One second after I accepted his generous, and convincing, offer I was sorry for what my politeness had gotten me into. My instinct was to spit it out and send it back to the waters from which it came. But with eyes on me, and the hosts pride to be insulted, I did the best I could to swallow and forget. The nice fisherman must have noticed my twisted face because he simply said, “maybe you would like them better with Tabasco® and a cold beer.” Both of which I longed for to cleanse my mouth.
And so that is the only time I have ever eaten a raw oyster. Baked from then on. I still try and keep a cold beer and Tabasco® on hand.
¼ cup butter, softened
¼ teaspoon lemon juice
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon Cavender’s® Greek Seasoning
⅔ cup grated parmesan cheese
1 dozen oysters on the half shell
Preheat oven to 450°F.
Combine butter and next four ingredients. Evenly distribute butter mixture over oysters. Sprinkle parmesan over oysters. Bake for 10-12 minutes until cheese is melted and oysters are cooked through.