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The Hirshon Tomales Bay Barbecued Oysters

  • Total Time: 0 hours


Units Scale
  • 1 teaspoon California olive oil
  • 1/4 pound canned San Marzano tomatoes, drained
  • 3 tablespoons minced shallot
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tablespoon sweetened Chinese Black Vinegar (or use cider vinegar if unavailable)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 tablespoon Bourbon, preferably Woodford Reserve
  • 1/4 teaspoon Asian fish sauce, preferably Red Boat brand
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese Chili sauce with black beans
  • 1 shake of Tabasco (or to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons freshly ground horseradish
  • 1/4 pound (1 stick) organic unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced parsley
  • 1/8 teaspoon hickory liquid smoke
  • 2 dozen fresh oysters – Miyagi oysters, but any medium-size oyster with a deep “bowl” bottom shell will work. You want to prevent the garlic butter and tomato sauce from sloshing out of the shell once they heat
  • Sourdough bread


  1. For the tomato sauce: Combine the olive oil, tomatoes, onion, 1 garlic clove, thyme leaves, salt and brown sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until you can smash the garlic clove against the pot with the back of a spoon, about 25 minutes. Remove from heat and pass through fine food mill, or puree in a blender.
  2. Return the sauce to the saucepan; add the vinegar(s), fish sauce, chili sauce, Bourbon and Tabasco, bring to a simmer, and cook for about 30 minutes, or until thickened. You should have about 1 cup of sauce.
  3. Strain out the tomato seeds, then let cool. Stir in grated horseradish; set aside or refrigerate.
  4. For the garlic butter: Mince the remaining four cloves of garlic. Melt the butter, add the garlic. minced parsley and liquid smoke, then refrigerate until solid.
  5. For the oysters: Shuck oysters over a bowl, and being sure to preserve all the oyster liquor. Try to keep all the liquor in the shell with the oyster meat; otherwise you can add it back to the shells from the bowl after you put the oysters on the grill.
  6. To finish: Prepare and heat the grill to medium high. Carefully arrange the oysters on the grill to prevent loss of liquor and cook, uncovered, until done, about 2 minutes. If the grill slats are too wide, nestle the oysters into a bed of rock salt layered into a shallow pan, and set that on the grill; cover and cook for about 4 minutes, until done.
  7. Spoon a dollop of garlic butter onto each cooked oyster while still on grill; once the butter melts, add a dime-size “hat” of tomato horseradish sauce. Plate carefully to prevent loss of liquid, over rock salt if need be. Serve with warm sourdough.
  • Prep Time: 0 hours
  • Cook Time: 0 hours
  • Category: Recipes


  • Calories: 290.41 kcal
  • Sugar: 6.58 g
  • Sodium: 325.17 mg
  • Fat: 25.46 g
  • Saturated Fat: 15.04 g
  • Trans Fat: 0.93 g
  • Carbohydrates: 11.23 g
  • Fiber: 1.05 g
  • Protein: 4.5 g
  • Cholesterol: 87.35 mg
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