Seafood isn’t everyone’s thing, but the average American consumes more than 15 pounds of seafood in a year, and shellfish makes up a large portion of this figure. Personally, I could almost say I love shellfish more than other forms of seafood, and if I were to tell you my favorite, I think I’d have to go with oysters. I love them raw, I know several steamed oysters recipes, and to be honest, my favorite way to eat them is smoked.
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In this guide, I’m going to show you the value of the smoked oyster so that you can make them a part of your everyday dinner prep, your appetizers for when you have guests, and even when you just want a delicious snack. I love both canned and smoked varieties, so feel free to use either when you’re making yours up.
Canned Smoked Oysters versus Self-Smoked Oysters
As I mentioned, I’ll be featuring both types in this guide, but which stands out as the best? Canned oysters of this type tend to be set in brine that makes them a bit salty, which is why I typically rinse them before I prepare them. Also, you can avoid the briny flavor by purchasing smoked oysters in olive oil, but in my opinion, this changes the flavor slightly.
When it comes to the oyster experience, smoked variations of oysters that come in a tin can work well for most dishes. On the other hand, when you smoke them yourselves, you have more control of the flavor process – you can add flavorings, change the wood type, or heat them longer, so if I’m honest, I’d suggest smoking your own if you have the capability.
Wondering where to start with the smoking process? Well, let me show you how to smoke your own.
How to Smoke Oysters
One of the best features of smoking your bivalves is that you don’t have to deal with the salty brine at all. You can prepare them on your nearest smoking rack, and you don’t even need a lot of ingredients to do the job. Another awesome feature of this method is that it doesn’t take a long time – whereas pork and beef take hours, smoking your bivalves will take you mere minutes.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- 36 oysters that are still in the shell
- Three quarters to a full stick of butter, preferably unsalted
Startup your smoker so that you’re preheating it to 225 degrees or so. Add the wood as per the instructions that came with the smoker. During the preheating process, shuck the oysters so that you’re getting rid of the top half of the shells while leaving the meat resting on the bottom of the shell. Carefully add the oysters to a grill/smoke rack, but be extra careful to keep the juices from going to waste.
Add about a teaspoon of butter to each oyster – you don’t have to work it into the meat, make sure that when it melts that it coats it fully. Place the rack in the smoker and let the oysters heat for about 20 minutes and serve.
Sometimes, if I’m looking for a little extra flavor, I use garlic butter for the oysters, but this is completely up to you. You can also cook them slightly longer, but be 100 percent sure that you aren’t overcooking the meat and making your oysters tough.
How to Eat Smoked Oysters
One of my favorite aspects of oysters prepared this way is that they go with just about anything. This means that you can serve them up on a cracker, eat them with bacon, or even grind them up into a dip.
In any situation, if you aren’t a big fan of raw oysters (which I admit I wasn’t at first), then smoking them takes a bit of the sliminess away that tends to turn people off.
One of my favorite ways to eat these deliciously smoked shellfish is just on a piece of grilled or toasted bread. The juices mean that you don’t have to add on any condiments and the smoky flavor makes the sandwich taste exciting and unique.
Are Smoked Oysters Healthy?
We all know that these types of oysters are delectable, but how healthy are they?
Can you have them more than once a week without feeling guilty? Fortunately, one of my favorite aspects of this unique delicacy is how they are pretty good for you.
Not only are oysters packed with protein, but you can rest assured that you’ll be getting healthy amounts of vitamin C, vitamin B-12, zinc, iron, and selenium. None of these important vitamins and minerals will be lost to the smoking process, and even the addition of fats like butter or olive oil won’t reduce the nutritional value of these deliciously smoked bivalves.
Smoked Oysters Recipe
The first recipe I’m going to show you is a recipe that will provide you with a smoked oyster that you can spread on your favorite brand of crackers.
Recently, I tried this recipe with bacon-flavored crackers, and I admit that I fell in love with the flavor. You can use plain, premium, or flavored crackers for this recipe, but for simplicity, I’m not going to specify.
For this recipe, it’s definitely okay to opt to use canned varieties of the smoked bivalves; in fact, I’ve used Crown Prince smoked oysters in this recipe, and my guests loved the results.
This recipe also uses very little ingredients, which makes this a cheap appetizer to serve up during your gatherings.
Here is how you can make up your spread:
- Canned or self-smoked oysters – if you’re smoking them yourself, about 10-15 oysters will do. Otherwise, prepare a can.
- A block of softened cream cheese
- A teaspoon of cayenne pepper
- About half of a finely cut onion
- A tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
Preparing your oysters this way is very simple; combine your smoked oyster meat with the softened cream cheese; just sure that the meat is nice and creamy and well-mixed. Next, add in the onion so that there are little onion chunks interspersed throughout the spread. Finally, add in the sauce and the cayenne, and you’ll be able to quickly and easily spoon this delicious mixture onto your favorite cracker.
Pilaf and Smoked Oysters
When I have my oysters, I love having them with a side, and this recipe uses a unique recipe for smoking the oysters, which gives them a rich, premium flavor. I have to warn you: some of these ingredients will be slightly more expensive than what might be typical, but the resulting flavor will be well worth the expenditure.
Here’s how you’ll be smoking your oysters:
- 40 oysters
- One cup of white cooking wine
- One cup of water
- A quarter cup of olive oil
To start, you’ll need to prepare your bivalves for the smoking process. To do this, clean each oyster thoroughly under cold water. Next, using the wine and water mixture, boil a layer of oysters until the shells pop open. When this is done for all 40 oysters, and you’ve set them aside, strain the liquid broth until there isn’t any sediment remaining.
Using a knife, remove the oyster meat from the shell. Be very meticulous here – you don’t want any of the meat to go to waste. Set the oysters aside. Next, using the strained broth, soak the oyster meat for about a half hour.
Finally, in a prepared smoker that uses a piquant wood such as hickory or oak, smoke the oysters at 150 degrees for about two hours or so.
Here are the ingredients that you’ll need for the accompanying pilaf:
- Two cups of long-grain white rice
- Two tablespoons of olive oil
- Two and a half tablespoons of butter
- An onion
- One teaspoon of kosher sea salt
- One teaspoon of garlic powder
- Three cups of chicken stock
- One teaspoon of saffron
- A quarter teaspoon of cayenne pepper
- One tablespoon of fresh chopped parsley
Start by preheating your oven to about 350 degrees. Using a large saucepan, melt the two and a half tablespoons of butter and sauté the onions until they start to turn translucent and have a little brown. Combine the uncooked rice with the onion mixture and toss the whole thing into a casserole dish. Typically, I place the dish on another baking pan. Make sure that the uncooked rice is well-coated in the dish.
Next, in the same saucepan, combine the stock, garlic powder, salt, cayenne, and saffron, and bring it to a boil. Once it’s boiling, reduce the heat to low, and let it simmer for about five minutes. Next, pour the broth mixture into the casserole dish, and mix well so that the rice is covered. Cover your baking dish with the aluminum foil, and place it in the oven for 35 minutes or so.
If you want a more traditional rice pilaf, you can add a third of a cup of cooked vermicelli or orzo to the final product. Sprinkle the finished rice pilaf with chopped parsley.
Finally, serve your fully-smoked oysters atop your rice pilaf.
Garlic-Herb Linguine with Smoked Oysters
I’m a big fan of Italian cuisine, and many areas of the country incorporate oysters into their unique dishes. For me, adding oysters that have been smoked really brings out the flavor of the garlic and herbs. For this recipe, I usually used canned variations of the oysters. If you’re looking for a delicious-tasting smoked oysters pasta, then this is a great one to try out, and it will make several servings for you to serve to your guests.
Here are the ingredients that you’ll need for this version of the dish:
- One package of linguine pasta
- Two full-sized cans of smoked oysters – I like cottonseed oil for this recipe
- One cup chopped parsley
- A quarter cup of melted butter
- Two teaspoons of minced garlic
- Two cups of packed spinach
- One-quarter of a teaspoon of salt
- A half teaspoon of fennel seeds
To start, prepare the linguine noodles according to the package’s directions – I usually add a liberal pinch of salt to the recipe and prepare the pasta according to the al dente instructions. This usually means cooking the pasta for about six to eight minutes.
In a separate saucepan, heat the cottonseed oil in the can of oysters with the garlic and parsley. After about one minute of cooking, stir in the oysters with the spinach and cook until you see the spinach start to wilt. Once the wilting begins, simply drizzle this combination over the cooked linguine and add the fennel seeds. Serve immediately.
So, is there value in eating oysters in the ways that I have outlined? Whether you opt to eat your oysters canned, steamed, or smoke them yourself, the bivalves have a lot of benefits. In fact, if you’re wondering about smoked oysters nutrition, per oyster, there are a lot of healthy vitamins and minerals.
I hope you enjoyed this guide on oysters that have been smoked to perfection, and I hope that you try out one of the recipes that I featured here soon!