Dan’s Alder Smoked Northwest Oysters
I start with fresh NW Oysters whenever possible. I like to get them from my favorite Oyster farm at Wallapa Bay here in Washington State. (they’ll shuck ‘em for free!)
That said, I’m not above using a fresh jar from Costco.
If going this route, don’t go by the sell by date on the jar. To makes sure they’re fresh, tilt the jar and look at the liquid, it should be clear. If it’s milky or cloudy, the oysters are old.
I use the small size oysters, but I have to watch them closely to make sure I don’t end up with Oyster Jerky.
The large ones work very well too and are more forgiving. Remember, they’ll shrink by about 50% by the time they’re done.
OK, here’s the recipe…
1 Quart fresh shucked oysters
1 Qt water
1 C Brown Sugar
¼ C course grind, White Hawaiian Sea Salt (they have red as well, but I’ve never used it for oysters)
1TB Knorr Seasoning sauce
¼ C Blackstrap Rhum
1tsp good quality Fish Sauce (optional)
Mix all the ingredients together and stir until the sugar and salt are dissolved.
Add the oysters to the brine, and weight them down with a small plate to make sure all are completely immersed. Refrigerate for 3-4 hrs.
When I remove the oysters from the fridge, I preheat my smoker. Since the oysters are so small and almost cooked through already, I want them to be exposed to smoke from the very start, and not be exposed to the high temp swings my 55 goes through when first turned on.
I use 1½oz Alder and 1½oz Apple wood, and set the temp to 190°.
Use the small chunks you get, in the plastic bag at the sporting goods store. I find that for seafood, I want a lot of smoke but for a shorter time, so for most seafood the small chips and chunks work better than a couple large pieces.
I used to foil the chunks and poke holes, but experimentation has shown that it’s really not needed.
OK, back to the oysters. Holding the plate that is keeping them immersed, pour the brine off into a 2qt pot leaving the oysters in the brining bowl.
Bring the brine to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and add the oysters.
Blanch for just for a couple minutes to firm them up and then slowly pour the oysters into a colander to drain. (DO NOT RINSE!).
Remember, you are not trying to cook the oysters; you’re blanching just long enough to firm them up. The oysters are very soft and fragile at this point so be gentle.
Now transfer your oysters to some paper towels on the counter. Arrange in a single layer and use some more towels to lightly pat dry.
Place oysters in a clean, dry bowl. Sprinkle a couple tsp of light Olive Oil and gently mix to coat.
Place the oysters on a seafood rack that has been prepared with cooking spray.
When you see the first bit of smoke coming from the chimney, put the oysters into the smoker!
Smoke @ 190° until done.
There’s no set time since that will depend on the size of oyster, temp when going into the smoker, etc..
It’s impossible to use a probe on these, so I normally start checking after 45min -1 hour, and then about every 10-15 min if needed.
I test them like I do a steak, poking with my finger until they feel like a medium rare steak.
They should be just cooked, but with a soft creamy consistency, not hard and rubbery. Leave them in too long and you’ll have oyster jerky!
If you’re not sure, grab one of the smallest ones and pop it in your mouth. Still not sure? Pop another! (I’m never sure on the first test!) When the small ones are perfect, try one of the larger ones. Repeat this until they’re done, or until you run out of oysters!
In my opinion that’s the best way to tell when they’re ready to come out. You may find you have to remove the smaller ones, and give the larger oysters another 10 min or so.
…Oh, you should probably have a cold microbrew handy as the beer will clear your palette in between bites. (It also gives you stamina when waiting for that first bit of smoke to appear!) …That’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it!
When the oysters are done, I place them in a jar, and cover with light Olive Oil.
The Olive oil will get solid in the fridge, but turns liquid fast when the oysters are removed and are able to sit a few minutes at room temp. Bonus is, when the oysters are gone, I use the oil as a salad dressing! (oysters are great in the salad as well)
This recipe makes the best Smoked Oysters you ever ate, or your money back!
I only have a couple pics of the oysters to share right now.
Next time I make these, I'll take pics of the process and add them to this post...
Before I bought my seafood racks, I used two regular racks placed perpendicular to each other to form small squares. This kinda worked, but some of the smaller oysters still fell through the cracks. Believe me, if you do seafood often, the seafood racks are a great investment!
I also use the seafood racks when smoking cheese, turning the pieces over halfway through the smoke process to form a nice pattern on the finished product, (but that’s another story)
Here's some pics;
Blanched Oysters going in the Smoker
Smoked Oysters packed in Light Olive Oil
Cookshack Seafood Grills make an interesting pattern on the Smoked Eggs.