Recipe: Grilled Oysters with Creme Fraiche and Tarragon

I’m a latecomer when it comes to oysters.   I assumed they were all salty and slimy — as my samples had been — and I didn’t understand the appeal.  Oysters ordinaire are like that, but some of the complex, luscious West Coast oysters like Kumamotos and in particular, the Sweetwaters grown by the Hog Island Oyster Company in Tomales Bay (a worthy weekend trip, most definitely), made me a believer.

Hog Island (see center of photo) in gorgeous Tomales Bay in Marin County is the namesake of the best oysters produced in California. The oyster beds surround the little island and can be eaten right out of the water at the Hog Island Oyster Company’s store next to the bay in Marshall.

After developing oyster appreciation, I was primed to try oysters in different ways.  Even my previous, oyster-averse self would have liked grilled oysters, with are carriers for tasty toppings.  The most delicious I’ve encountered so far is this recipe, which can be garnished with finger limes (see post) to add another flavor dimension.

Grilled Oysters with Creme Fraiche and Tarragon


  • 1/2 cup creme fraiche or sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh tarragon
  • 1 lemon zest, grated
  • 1-3 T lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons undiluted orange juice concentrate
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Dash cayenne pepper or black pepper
  • 18 large oysters, scrubbed and shucked, oysters left intact in bottom shell
  • (optional) juice pearls from finger limes (if not using, add more lemon juice to the topping)


Preheat the broiler or light a grill.  Mix the creme fraiche, lemon zest, juice, orange concentrate, salt and cayenne (or pepper).  Add additional lemon juice if not including finger lime.  Stir in the tarragon.

Spoon mixture into shucked oysters that have been set on a broiler pan.  Or carefully place the oysters on a grill in order not to lose much juice.  Cook until mixture bubbles.  Garnish with finger lime pearls and serve immediately.


2 responses to “Recipe: Grilled Oysters with Creme Fraiche and Tarragon

  1. If I don’t want to travel to Tomales Bay, is there a reliable grocery store for good oysters?

    • Cook’s Seafood in Menlo Park has decent oysters and their oysters are particularly great for grilling. Sometimes (call first), the larger Whole Foods have Kumamotos and similar varieties if raw oysters are the objective. Closer than Marin County is the Hog Island Oyster Company’s bar in San Francisco at Ferry Plaza. If you’re a raw fan, their oysters are pure magic. Better, I think, than the Kumamotos grown in the Pac NW. With a little pre-planning, oysters could be bought in SF, put in a cooler, then shucked at home.

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