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Southern shellfish at its best: Master baked oysters, seafood pasta and Frogmore stew

Restaurateurs from Charleston, South Carolina's bustling culinary scene share their favorite shellfish recipes.
The Darling Oyster Bar's Oyster Spaghetti uses classic Southern ingredients with an Italian spin.
The Darling Oyster Bar's Oyster Spaghetti uses classic Southern ingredients with an Italian spin.ANDREW CEBULKA
/ Source: TODAY

There's no time like the present to learn how to shuck an oyster. Trust us, once you have the proper tools, it's easier than you think!

The city of Charleston, South Carolina, has plenty of restaurants serving all types of cuisines. But few chefs stray far from the city's most famous culinary delight: the seafood, especially shellfish.

There are two types of shellfish, crustacea — like lobsters, shrimp and crab. And mollusks, which include clams, scallops, mussels and oysters. In addition to being a healthy option full of omega-3 fatty acids, seafood and shellfish are versatile ingredients that can be easily used in appetizers or entrées. And for many Charleston restaurants, oysters are king.

They can be enjoyed raw, roasted, steamed, baked, grilled, sautéed ... you name it.

"Charleston's food scene is ever growing, and one constant is people come from near and far for seafood," The Darling Oyster Bar's executive chef Ben Dinsmore TODAY Food. "What seems to win over guests and [why] they continue to come back is the beautiful scenery, rich history and there is always a new place around the corner to try."

You don't have to be a Charleston local to dine like one. These delightfully salty, savory and briny shellfish dishes will have you talking with a slight Southern twang in no time.

This savory dish by Charleston's The Darling Oyster Bar is an Italian spin on a Lowcountry Southern classic. The recipe uses local oysters, bacon and fresh ingredients like garlic, parsley and celery root. It's not just darling, it's also delicious!

These gorgeous baked oysters by chef Nico Romo of NICO Oysters + Seafood are served on the half shell and smothered in a French camembert/white wine mixture, and then broiled in the oven. The cheese sauce can also be made ahead of time as it needs to be refrigerated for at least 6 hours — so when it's time to cook dinner, you only need about 10 minutes in the kitchen.

This dish, sometimes called a Lowcountry Boil, lends itself to a slow-paced, communal culinary experience. It's served at Bowen's Island Restaurant, which has been cooking up casual seafood to South Carolina's locals since 1946. Frogmore Stew is ideal for a cookout or when you need something special, yet low-maintenance, to serve a bunch of friends and family.

Chargrilled Oysters

Leon's Oyster Shop is an industrial-chic restaurant located in an old garage in Charleston. It's known for its fried chicken, oysters and beer. Being an oyster shop, the restaurant team knows how to cook oysters to perfection. These mollusks are dressed with a savory garlic and butter sauce, which can only be used to top other proteins like steak or chicken.