From under the sea to over the fire: Let’s do seafood right

There’s a lot of ways to cook seafood. Steaming it is popular in the D.C. area; frying can be a good option; so can sautéing — even boiling (please don’t ever bring me boiled seafood).

But it’s hard to go wrong with fish, or shellfish, cooked over fire.

This week’s episode of Fired Up With Jake and John gets into smoked and grilled seafood. Obviously there was lots of talk about smoked salmon.

“You can hot smoke it, where it’s cooked as well as smoked; you can cold smoke it, where you get a texture where it’s more like Nova Scotia Salmon or Scottish Smoked Salmon,” said Steven Raichlen, the host of “Project Smoke” on PBS.

Hot smoking the salmon doesn’t take long — around 20 minutes. Cold smoking takes a lot more effort, and it’s how the pros really like to do it.

“You have to know what you’re doing,” said Drew Darneille, the owner of Smoke Craft Modern BBQ in Arlington. “We put it in a smoker [and] we have trays of ice above and below the salmon. We’re putting it on the lowest heat possible, just to get smoke in there. So smoking a salmon at home is certainly a challenge.”

He also suggests resting the fish on a cedar plank so you can get some of the wood flavorings to rise right up into the filet.

Fired Up with Jake and John

Oysters were also a popular subject of discussion.

“Pop off the top shell,” said Raichlen. “A little dab of butter in each one, and then I put them on a grill setup for indirect grilling with wood chips or chunks on the coals or in the smoker box.”

That’s a quick process, he said — “like five to eight minutes, long enough to poach the oysters in their juices but still a little raw in the center.” And the wood smoke mixes in with the butter and oyster juices.

“It’s another one that’s so simple, I’m almost embarrassed to include it in my cookbook. But it’s just a fantastic way to cook oysters,” he added.

Darneille joked he should post his method for oysters on YouTube because it’s so simple, and in his opinion, so delicious and impressive looking.

Like Raichlen, he leaves them in a half-shell and puts them over direct heat “because there’s the protection of the shell and you’re basically trying to boil them in butter or top them with Parmesan breadcrumbs or something like that,” said Darnielle. “So you get that flame going through to get that up there to get the heat where you want to go.”

“It’s fast,” he added. “It’s something that people are going to be wowed with and take a look at.”

Swordfish, shrimp and other seafoods are included in this week’s episode as well.

Listen and subscribe to the “Fired Up with Jake and John” podcast on Podcast One.

John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

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