From Rob Ruiz of The Land & Water Company


Obama is not just the President’s last name, it is also the name of a very famous city in Japan, just south of Kyoto, in the Fukui prefecture. The waters near Obama, on the southwestern side of Japan, are where the Kumumoto oyster, one of the most prized oyster species, can be found. For centuries, the people of Obama have consumed oysters, and this recipe puts a French twist (AKA butter) on this traditional preparation. It’s geared for summer; in fact, it’s excellent for the BBQ. 


Photography By Chris Rov Costa | June 20, 2017


Optional: Simmer 1 part soy sauce, 1 part sake, 1 part mirin and 1 part dashi for 5 minutes. Throw in a pinch of bonito flakes, let cool and strain. This will make an umami-filled soy sauce on steroids called nikiri. Of course, a few drops of regular soy is how the Japanese eat it traditionally.

1. Melt the butter in a small sauté pan over medium-low heat. The butter will melt and begin to bubble as the moisture evaporates out of it. Just listen to it. You’ll hear it simmering tightly, and then it will go quiet. Once it goes quiet, watch it. You can see that now you are toasting the milk solids. Once you see a little whisper of golden brown start to appear, kill the heat. Let it rest in the pan until it’s as nutty as you like. Then pour it into a different container until you’re ready to serve it on top of the oysters.

2. Throw your unshucked oysters on the grill and let them get hot!  They will began to steam themselves in their own oyster liquor and pop open when they are ready to eat. If they don’t pop open don’t eat them.

3. Take oysters off the grill, carefully, and open them all the way. Remove the top shell and cut them free inside the bottom shell, by releasing the abductor muscle. Try to save all the natural oyster liquor you can—it’s the best part.

4. Lay the oysters out on a favorite plate or a piece of wood. Focus more on being a heathen than an aristocrat with the presentation. Drizzle the browned butter over the top of the oysters, sprinkle with a few drops of soy and garnish with the bonito flakes. 

The goal here is to slurp up the oyster with the umami-filled bonito flakes and soy and that rich, nutty brown butter to complement your wood-fired BBQ oysters. Simple, traditional, with a French twist and a whole new way to enjoy this sensual, sustainable seafood.  


  • 1 dozen ysters  (seek out your favorite, or grab some from your local fishmonger; just ask for the most recent harvest.)
  • 2 tablespoons (heaping) unsalted butter
  • 2 three-finger pinches Bonito Flakes (katsuoboshi in Japanese)
  • ¼ cup soy sauce (low sodium or gluten free, your choice)
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