I remember very well the first time I tasted a scallop, which was at the christmas party of PricewaterhouseCoopers (one of my first employers) in 1998 as an hors d’oeuvre. Scallops, also known as Coquilles St. Jacques, are perfect as a hors d’oeuvre because they taste fantastic and are exactly the right size. I didn’t know what they were, but liked them straight away and they have been one of my favorite foods ever since.
Although I had never heard of hot-smoked scallops, I thought it would work well and so I tried it and found out that it works extremely well! Hot-smoking is easy to do: you just need a dedicated smoking oven (or an old pan) and smoke dust. Hot-smoked scallops are perfect as an hors d’oeuvre at a party (because you can make a lot of them with hardly any work, certainly much less work than sauteing them!) or as part of the antipasti of a dinner. With a dedicated smoking oven that you can also use outdoors, it’s also great to serve a hot hors d’oeuvre when you are away from your kitchen. This is what I did when I made these.
By the way, hot-smoking means that the food is roasted/cooked and smoked at the same time. This is different from cold smoking, which is for instance used for smoked salmon. For this you need more complicated equipment, because you need the smoke and not the heat that is needed to create the smoke in the first place.
You will be amazed how good this tastes if you see how simple the ingredients are. But trust me, it is amazing! Of course it depends on the quality of the scallops, but fresh out of the shell is good enough for this preparation.
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pat scallops dry with paper towels. Toss with salt, freshly ground black pepper and olive oil. (If you bring the scallops in a container like I did, just add the other ingredients, cover with a lid and shake. Do not do this beforehand because the salt will make the scallops soggy.)
Put the smoke dust in the smoker. I used beech.
Add the dripping tray and the grill. Spread out the scallops.
Close the smoker, light the burners and smoke for 15 minutes.
In an informal setting you can put toothpicks in the scallops and serve them straight from the smoker (use oven mits because the smoker will be hot). For a nicer presentation you can of course also transfer them to a plate.