Here’s everything you need to know from the right tools to have on hand to calculating the proper number of oysters-per-person. We asked Ben Moise, a G&G contributor and South Carolina native with more than 30 years in the oyster roasting business, for his tips on cooking up our favorite bivalves.
Fresh oysters (one South Carolina bushel or one 40 lb. box of Gulf singles per five people)
An outdoor table with overhead light (two saw horses and a piece of ½-inch thick plywood work just fine)
Oyster gloves (Moise prefers these)
Oyster knives (have enough knives on hand for the number of people that can stand around your oyster table)
Cocktail and hot sauce
Plenty of cold beer and chilled, crisp white wine
TRADITIONAL WOOD-FIRED METHOD
Sheet of steel (2’x2’ or 3’x3’ and no less than 1/4″ thick)
Split burlap bags
Bucket of water
Setting up the fire:
In the ground, dig a shallow hole (depression) deep enough to permit a good stack of wood under the steel sheet. TIP: Check the prevailing wind to make sure the smoke won’t blow toward your guests. Soak your burlap bags in a bucket of water. Stack the split oak logs, along with kindling, in the hole ready to be lit. Surround the edges of the hole with vertically turned cinder blocks to provide a base for the steel sheet.
Light the fire and place the steel on top of the cinder blocks. TIP: As soon as a few drops of water sizzle on the sheet of steel, you’re ready to go. Add the oysters and cover with a thick layer of wet burlap. After 8-9 minutes (keep checking to see if the oysters are beginning to open) pull the burlap off and get it soaking for your next batch.
Using the shovel, transfer the hot oysters to the table.
ALTERNATE STEAMING METHOD
Large stockpot or steamer with perforated insert
Gas or propane burner with a high-pressure regulator
Setting up the steamer:
Fill the stockpot with a small amount of water (2-3 inches) and bring to a full boil. Then add the oysters and cover. After about four or five minutes, remove from the flame. Lift the liner—letting the water drain—and carefully dump the pot of hot oysters onto your table.