Oysters are wonderful for a special occassion but don't reserve them for the party season, they also make a fantastic light starter. Try Rose Blackett-Ord's recipe for grilled oysters with parsley, lemon and bacon

Grilled oysters with parsley, lemon and bacon are a great option for those seeking a lighter starter. While natives are certainly best enjoyed raw, grilled rock oysters have a comforting creaminess that just suits the season, especially when cut through with a lemony dressing. If you’re not a fan of oysters, the recipe is also a winner with scallops.

For a main course perfect for Valentine’s Day, try parmesan pheasant breasts with crispy ham.


Serves 4

  • 6 rashers lean, unsmoked back bacon
  • Zest of 3 lemons
  • 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 chillies, deseeded and finely chopped (optional, but very good)
  • 50g (2oz) butter
  • 11⁄2 tbsp lemon juice
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 16 fresh rock oysters
  • 1 packet rice or rock salt
  • 2 tbsp parsley, finely chopped

To make grilled oysters with parsley, lemon and bacon, cook the bacon in a very hot oven until crispy, then chop it finely. Sweat the lemon zest, garlic and chilli (if using) in the butter for a couple of minutes over a low heat. Add the lemon juice and bacon and stir in. Season to taste and set aside. This can be made in advance but should be warmed through before use.

To shuck the oysters, wrap one hand in several layers of dishcloth and use it to hold each oyster against a flat surface, with the flat half of the shell facing up. Take a short, strong knife and insert it next to the hinge of the oyster, wiggling it until you feel the hinge pop. Run the knife carefully around the edge of the shell, trying not to spill the juice inside, making sure you sever the muscle that holds the shell down. Remove the flat shell and ensure the oyster is detached from the bowl-like bottom shell. Place in an ovenproof pan filled with a thick layer of rice or rock salt – this will support the oysters so no juices are lost.

Put about ¼ tsp of the bacon and lemon mixture on each oyster. Place the whole pan under a pre-heated grill at a moderate temperature for around three minutes, or until the filling is bubbling and beginning to turn golden-brown. To serve the grilled oysters with parsley, lemon and bacon, top with a sprinkling of chopped parsley.