The peasant food we harvested into luxury.
Artificial oyster reef creation off Governors Island by New York District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, on Flickr
Human consumption of oysters predates recorded history and continues through it, with North African tribes, Roman soldiers, and the serfs of feudal Japan all enjoying oysters of one variety or another.
By the 19th century, New York harbor produced most of the oysters sold in the world, with as many as six million oysters being harvested daily. As the supply diminished, suppliers attempted to introduce foreign oyster stocks to the harbor, which introduced new diseases. As the supply diminished, the cost of oysters–both in New York’s restaurants and globally–increased. But shelf-stable smoked oysters continued to provide access for those who haven’t got the resources to have them flown in.
Don’t worry, it’s not as grim as that. Now, 95% of oysters are cultivated, and in 2010, even New York started work on returning oysters to the harbor.
For more on liquid smoke, see the post for Gretchen’s butter beans.
From a box sold in Martinez, California.
Canned Smoked Oysters
72 small oysters or 36 large (equals 3-1/2 pints or 7-1/2 pints)
Simmer 10 minutes (till firm) with bay leaf (optional)
Drain and place in shallow pan.
1 cup olive oil
2-1/2 Tbsp. hickory smoke
3 T. soy sauce
2-1/2 t. paprika
1 tsp. celery salt or seed
1 tsp. Johnny Dock seasoning
3 tsp. chopped garlic or 2 tsp. garlic powder
Pour over oysters and pressure cook 75 min. at 10 lbs. pressure.