I love to eat oysters, I love them raw on the half shell, deep fried, steamed, smoked or in a pie. I've also got a desire to try new things so when the season's first maritime oysters hit the grocery stores I decided to try my hand at smoking some. I invite you to follow me on this journey of discovery and flavor.
Ingredients: 1/4 peck or about 30 fresh oysters in the shell.
large pot of boiling salted water.
wood chips for smoking
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Step 1: Gather Your Crustations.
As mentioned in the introduction I'm using Maritime oysters from my neighboring province of Prince Edward Island. They start becoming available in my area in mid November, about the same time the Beaujolias Nouveau wine comes out. Coincidence, I think not. If you've never shucked an oyster before be prepared for a few minor injuries. It would be best if you got some one to show you how first, I'm sure youtube has lots of videos on how to do it.
I'm no expert on how it is done but I've shucked enough to get by without injury. You will be needing an oyster knife, an old dish rag and perhaps a hammer for the tough ones.
Step 2: Time to Start Shucking.
If you don't like the look of fresh oysters then go no further on this instructable, if you love oysters like I do then this is like opening little casks of goodness. You must control the urge to eat too many right off the half shell if you can, be strong, you can do it.
Step 3: Blanching
Ok, you've shucked all the oysters, administered what ever first aide was required to your hands so it is time now to blanch the meats. You will need to carefully clean them first in a sieve with fairly big holes to let any shell fragments fall through. Use a gentle stream of cold water and your fingers to feel for any sharp bits. You will also need a steel strainer and a large pot of boiling salted water. Blanching only takes a few seconds and you know you are done when the edges of the meats start to curl up. This step firms the meats up.
Step 4: Smoking
Now the fun begins, if you are an experienced food smoker then use the equipment you have and the methods you get your best results from. For those new to this method of cooking do a little research on the various methods of smoking or just follow along. You will need:
wood chips (I'm using reclaimed oak whiskey barrel wood)
container to hold wood chips (I'm using a pair of purpose made steel chip baskets)
Heat source (I'm using a gas BBQ because my meat tray wouldn't fit my smoker.)
A tray to hold the meat.( I'm using a saute pan for BBQ's, you could use a couple of cooling racks laid cross wise to each other)
The smoking time will be a personal preference, most sources say for oysters you only need between 25 and 30 minutes, I think I went about 45 minutes and was very happy with the results.
A note on the wood; don't use a wood that has a strong flavor such as hickory or mesquite, it will impart a slightly bitter taste to your food. Sea food benefits more from the fruit woods, cedar or alder. I've also discovered whiskey soaked oak is very good.
Also, you should soak the chips in water for about 1 hour before hand but if you are diligent with the spritz bottle you can use them dry for quicker results.