Chef Mike Lata's Smoked Oyster Recipe From The Ordinary In Charle

The Ordinary's extraordinary smoked oyster snack

Consider the humble saltine.

Now reconsider it brushed with butter, sprinkled with Old Bay and topped with silky smoked oysters.

Hello, new favorite snack (see the recipe).

"Saltines and oysters are old friends," says Mike Lata of Charleston's The Ordinary, where the chef pays tribute to local and East Coast seafood in an airy, elegant former bank building.

Chef Mike Lata | The Ordinary's oyster selection | A seat at the bar | Bivalves and hot sauce | A mollusk map

The dish was inspired by a camping trip Lata took in Northern California, where he tried canned, smoked oysters for the first time. "I couldn't believe how much I liked them," he says, "but everything tastes better when you're camping."

At the restaurant, he hot-smokes the oysters for 15 minutes on the half-shell–just enough to give them (and their juices) a nice flavor without robbing them of their natural briny goodness. The raw oysters are dressed in a lemony vinaigrette with chives, shallots and chopped celery and served in a jar alongside a stack of hacked store-bought saltines, some crème fraîche and a miniature bottle of house-made hot sauce.

The perfect snack: smoked oysters with hacked saltines, hot sauce and crème fraîche

We tried the recipe with a Camerons stovetop smoker and the results were anything but ordinary.

These open-faced cracker sandwiches layer on all the notes you want in a savory snack: smoky, salty, creamy, tart, spicy.

We'll never look at saltines the same way again.