Editor Jefferson Holland samples some grilled oysters with gremolata.

Chesapeake Chef: Grilled Oysters with Gremolata

Chesapeake Bay Magazine’s Jefferson Holland is joined by John K. Hogan from SeaSalt Restaurant, to grill up some oysters with gremolata and charred bread on the dock. Hogan, along with Chef Alfredo Malinis, the current executive chef to the governor of Maryland, report that SeaSalt will open in late spring in Annapolis’ Park Place.

Grilled Oysters with SeaSalt Gremolata & Charred Bread
(recipe courtesy executive chef Alfredo Malinis)

Prep the grill: A Weber Kettle is the preferred style to use, but a flat grill with a lid or deep pan to cover the oysters will work. Charcoal or lump hardwood is the ideal fuel. Use a coal starter with paper and lighter—do not use lighter fluid, it leaves a petroleum residue on the coals. Light your starter coals and add more charcoal once they are ready. When coals are hot and gray, move them to one side of the grill,  leaving an open or indirect zone for the oysters. (Carefully place a hand approximately 5-6 inches above the coals to check temperature—they are ready if you can hold your hand for only 1-3 seconds before it’s too hot). Place a grate on the grill, heat for 2 minutes and then scrub with a wire brush. Leave the bottom and top vents open at least partially to allow coals to continue to heat. The grill is now ready. 

Oysters: Use large oysters if possible. Be careful to not overcook them as the shell heats quickly. Cooking an oyster over direct flame cooks faster, but grilling over an indirect flame with a lid will cook from top down. Spoon one tbsp of gremolata on each of the shucked oysters. Place oysters on grill over the indirect zone (no coals underneath). Cover with lid, heat for 5-8 minutes or until the gremolata (recipe below) begins to brown around the edges and top. Carefully remove them as the shells will be hot. Serve with charred bread.

Bread:  Fresh sourdough or baguette is preferred. Slice as you like (1″ thick is ideal). Brush one side with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt. Place on grill for 2-4 minutes or until crispy with grill marks. Slice and serve. (You can brush both sides of bread with oil, if you prefer) 

SEASALT gremolata sauce (aka savory green sauce) 

  • 1 bunch fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 1/2 bunch fresh cilantro 
  • zest of one lemon
  • 2 tbsp capers
  • 1 whole large bulb of garlic 
  • 1-2 single anchovies in oil
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/8 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 3 large pinches kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp fresh ground pepper
  • 1 tbsp fresh ground cumin

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse to blend smooth. Gremolata should be bright green, and not runny like water, nor thick like mayo. Season to taste, adding more oil, salt, or vinegar accordingly. For a more savory sauce add additional anchovies. The sauce should be a bit salty, tangy, savory, and garlicky. You can refrigerate it for up to 10-14 days. It’s great on bread, vegetables, other meats or fish.