Enjoy Galveston Bay’s best with this recipe for roasted oysters
The ritual of eating oysters — the tray of spent shells, sleeves of saltines and requisite hot sauce — requires equal parts elbow room and fortitude. Relishing fresh Gulf seafood is rooted in our Southern culture. Thank goodness Galveston Bay produces more oysters than any body of water in the United States, because our insatiable appetite for these briny bivalves isn’t going anywhere.
During these cooler coastal months, local oysters store glycogen, a carbohydrate compound that tastes like sugar. Accumulating glycogen gives the oysters a sweeter taste and a plump, chubbier physique, or what we would call packing on a little winter weight. So, whether you enjoy them raw, roasted, fried or swimming in a pot of gumbo, right now Galveston Bay’s iconic oysters are the season’s very best.
Roasted Oysters with Spicy Tomato Butter
12 Galveston Bay oysters, scrubbed and shucked
½ cup whole peeled tomatoes, juices drained
1 jalapeño, seeded and chopped
¼ cup (1⁄2 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat the broiler to high. In a small sheet pan, roast the tomatoes and jalapeño for 10 to 12 minutes on the highest rack, until blackened in places.
Meanwhile, prepare a pan by pouring the rock salt into a rimmed baking sheet and spreading into a layer. Arrange oysters on the prepared pan, pressing each into the rock salt to create a well.
Combine the roasted tomatoes, jalapeño and butter in a blender. Stir in the garlic. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Place a small dollop of the tomato butter mixture onto each oyster. Place the tray into the oven and broil until the oysters begin to curl around the edges, about 4 to 5 minutes. Don’t overcook. Serve immediately.
Alicia Cahill is the owner of The Kitchen Chick, 528 23rd St. in Galveston.