So I set out searching the web for a recipe on "how to smoke oysters". My goal was to reproduce those delicious canned smoked oysters we all love and grew up on. Right? Those things are amazing - and from a can!?!?!
Anyway, there's not a whole lot out there in terms of "smoked oyster recipes" other than some smokers who've opened them on the half shell and tossed them into their smoker. That's easy. Too easy! I wanted more...I wanted something special. So? I experimented and happened upon my own recipe/technique and ultimately the most amazing smoked oyster I've ever had! I guarantee you'll agree!
STEP 1: Get you some fresh oysters.
I found the ideal size is a raw oyster that is about 3" to 3.5" long once out of the shell. This is probably a medium-sized (5"-7") oyster (in the shell) - something to consider when picking out your oysters - not too small, not too big. The oysters shrink considerably in the smoking process. Next, shuck 'em! Collect the raw oysters in a chilled bowl. The colder you can keep your oysters, the better - as they break down quickly once out of the shell.
STEP 2: Get your brine on!
Brine the oysters the same as you would fish. My brine recipe:
3/4 cup non-iodized salt
1.5 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup soy sauce
3 bay leafs
1 tblsp garlic powder
1 cup brandy
Couple turns of a pepper grinder
Couple dashes of hot sauce (Tapatio or equivalent)
Table spoon dried chopped white onion (or onion powder)
1.5 gal water
This recipe/quantity will easily take care of at least 4 dozen oysters and even some fish at the same time too.
In a large, non metallic container, stir the brine really well until salt and sugars dissolve. Place all shucked raw oysters (meat only, not shells) into the brine and gently stir them to separate any as they have a tendency to stick to one another. Place your brine/oysters in a cold refrigerator or ice chest and let them brine for 30-40 hours.
STEP 3: Rinse and Set
After brining, gently rinse each oyster under cold water to wash off any residual seasoning, shell, or "dirt" from the meat. Place oysters on an oiled grid rack or vegetable grill rack. I use a stainless steel rack designed for grilling vegetables on a BBQ. It's basically a flat sheet of stainless with a grid of half-inch holes punched out. This will prevent any smaller oysters from slipping through a standard rack as well as allowing the smoke to get to the under-side of the oyster too. A rack like this is ideal:
Here's a photo of my oysters on my vegi grill rack - about to go into the smoker:
STEP 4: Get your smoke on!
I smoked these in a Bass Pro Shops (Masterbuilt) smoker set at 225 degrees F for just under two hours - smoking the entire time (roughly four pans of chips). For this batch I used Hickory. I typically use alder for seafood, but was out of alder, so hickory it was.
STEP 5: Finish 'em off in some Extra Virgin Olive Oil
The night I put these on the brine I also made two cups of garlic, red chili, lemon-zest infused EVOO that I would use to finish them off once out of the smoker. Plain EVOO will do just fine, however, infuse whatever herbs/flavors you desire for an even more interesting flavor profile. Let them marinate in the oil (in the fridge) for a few hours before serving. The oil will get a little cloudy when it's chilled but will clear up as it warms back up to room temp.
STEP 6: Enjoy!
Serve chilled or at room temp, on a crustini or straight off a fork. Unfortunately, I had to share these 48 oysters with some good friends and family...all of whom were blown away and many of which said they were the best OYSTER (not just smoked oyster....BEST OYSTER) they've ever had! I would have to agree!
Let me know what you guys think.
I was up at my best buddy's house so we used his smoker to do these this time. We discovered his smoker has a hot spot in the back right corner (Lower-left corner in the photo associated with Step 4). About 6-8 of the oysters got a little "well done". That is, they begin to take on a beef-jerky-like firmness - still good flavor, just super chewy. Notice the darkness of these "well done" oysters...Something to watch for next time. We should've taken the ones in this area off sooner, but to be honest, we weren't paying much attention to that back-right corner....Next time! Oh, and while the oysters were smoking we also had in there a nice steak of Chilean Sea Bass and a steak of Turbofish, and four large portabella mushroom caps. We've never smoked Sea Bass or Turbofish before, but OH MY! This fish turned out amazing as well...nice oily species, perfect for smoking! Clockwise: Portabella Mushroom, Chilean Sea Bass, Turbofish
We used the smoked mushroom as a delivery vehicle and came up with this delightful little combo/bite:
Ok, enough of me bragging! Cheers, guys!