Shuck Australian Smoked Oysters
Ballina, NSW
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GREAT NEWS: We've just won a Gold Medal at the Australian Food Awards for our whole-smoked oysters in the Smoked Seafood Class, and a Silver Medal for our Smoked Oyster Paté in the Dips and Tapenade Class! My company 'Shuck' was born out of my lifetime passion for all-things oysters. Growing up on Sydney Harbour, I have incredibly fond memories as a small child of fossicking for native rock oysters with my father, and older brother and sister. Dad would use his trusty pen knife to flick the top off the oysters and then my siblings and I would squabble over whose turn it was next to eat one. I can still remember the taste of those delicious morsels today: a hint of sweetness and slightly briny. However, my love of oysters didn't stop there. My parents often recounted a story when, as a toddler, I was left alone for a few minutes with a platter of smoked oysters on Jatz on the coffee table (this was the 60s!). Mum had prepared them specially for guests who were due to arrive any moment. When my parents ushered them into the lounge room, all that was left was me - and a platter of slightly oily looking Jatz. Every smoked oyster had been vacuumed up and was gone! I have to admit to have never really grown out of my love of smoked oysters. Though as my interest in quality food, and where it's grown and how it's produced has deepened, the Chinese or Vietnamese tinned oyster experience has left me completely cold. It was out of this that the idea to produce a gourmet-quality Australian smoked oyster was born. I have to admit, when I told my family and friends about my idea, they laughed. That's ok - it was more about me and my oyster passion than my slightly crazy idea. So I bought myself a digital Bradley smoker (about the size of a bar fridge) and I started experimenting. 'Should I smoke Sydney Rock Oysters or Pacific Oysters - which one will work best? Should I brine the oysters first, and if so for how long and in what? What type of wood should I use and how long should I smoke them for?' It took me three years, many, many oysters and a lot of very helpful smoked oyster tasters to arrive at a recipe I knew was not just good enough for commercial sale, but absolutely damn delicious! Without going into too much detail about the process I've perfected (I'd have to kill you if I told you), I use only top quality Pacific Oysters and Sydney Rock Oysters. Where possible, I source directly from farmers because I like to get to know them and their farming styles (this is part of the excitement for me of being able to immerse myself in the world of oysters - and claim it as a business expense!). I brine the oysters in my own special recipe, which includes native botanicals with hints of aniseed. I then smoke them over natural woods until they are just cooked, but still creamy with a real 'oystery' taste when you bite into them. I then package them in a good quality Sunflower oil, which is light in flavour and allows the delectable flavour of the finished smoked oyster shine through. A lot of my 'tasters' in recent years have sheepishly confessed to me about hiding their Shuck smoked oysters from their loved ones. Or getting the tub home and opening it to have 'just one' and standing at the kitchen bench and finishing the lot. Rather than hiding them from your loved ones, or eating them all before you even get them out of the tub, I hope you'll consider buying an extra 'cheeky pack' - just to save you from embarrassing situations like these... My Shuck smoked oysters are made with passion and love for this fine Australian product. I hope you can taste that in every mouthful you enjoy. Lucy Ashley Founder of Shuck Cover photo credit: The Serial Narrative

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