The mister and I love oysters on the half-shell but in our land locked, flat-lander part of the world there aren’t many choices for good raw oysters. However, we do have a wonderful group of folks that sells fresh seafood locally that is driven up from the Gulf of Mexico several times a month. Occasionally I like to go by and grab some fish, scallops and perhaps even oysters.
Since it was the 4th of July, I thought we would celebrate with a nice batch of fried oysters. Here’s how I did it:
You need about 24 fresh, shucked oysters. Be sure to thoroughly rinse the oysters in a colander and check for grit and any shell fragments. Nothing like shells and sand twixt your teeth to ruin the whole experience of these delightful creatures! Once you have rinsed, do it again. Just be sure, I promise it is worth it. Now drain them well.
3/4 Cup of all purpose flour
3/4 Cup of cornmeal
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon of ground chipotle pepper
Don’t try to do this with all flour. It just won’t work. Well, at least not as intended. Trust in Martha and she won’t do you wrong. Also, if you are from the South you pronounce that like the bug….Moth-A.
Place all of these items in a large bowl and set aside. Now gather your items for the oyster marinade.
1 Tablespoon of hot sauce (Tabasco, Texas Pete or your favorite brand)
1 Tablespoon of Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 Tablespoon salt
1 Tablespoon pepper
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 Cup buttermilk
Put this marinade in a non-metallic dish (remember lemon is an acid and we aren’t doing science experiments today regarding metal and its reactive nature to acid), stir and add the oysters. Let all of this rest in the fridge for an hour.
After you have waited an hour….don’t buck me on this….take the time required and rewards will be paid! After an hour, remove the container from the refrigerator and drain all of the marinade off and LIGHTLY rinse the oysters. You aren’t looking to scrub these dudes clean. You did that already at least an hour ago. Just get the majority of the marinade off and drain. Then turn onto some paper towels and PAT them dry. Gently.
Now take these beautiful oysters and drop them into the breading bowl. Gently stir them around in the flour, cornmeal and spices to completely cover the oysters. You want all of that goodness to adhere on every surface. Use a spoon or use your hands, whatever gets the job done.
Now line a cookie sheet with a piece of parchment paper. Don’t have parchment paper? Time you get some. This stuff is multipurpose, multi-tasking awesomeness on a roll! It is so useful and inexpensive. Please get some if you don’t have some and I promise I will give you a million ways to utilize it. Back to that cookie sheet….lay the coated oysters on the parchment lined pan and slip them into the refrigerator for at least 10 minutes. Please, I beg of you, don’t skip this step. This resting period allows the batter to truly adhere to the oyster so that when you get ready to fry it the batter stays on it instead of in the bottom of the pan.
So, we have a few free minutes on our hands….let’s make cocktail sauce!
Cocktail Sauce Ingredients:
1/2-3/4 Cup Ketchup
2 teaspoons Lemon Juice
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
1 teaspoon hot sauce
Dash or four of garlic salt….up to you, but I like a bit more
I adore horseradish. For me, this cocktail concoction deserves at least 3 or 4 Tablespoons of horseradish. Use your own judgement and create your own cocktail sauce nirvana. Also, use prepared horseradish not creamed or sauced as they have mayonnaise in them and that isn’t the flavor profile we want with this creation.
This is what I call a loosey-goosey recipe. Use it for reference only and make it to what your tastebuds prefer. I never measure when I make this and somehow it always turns out right.
Alrighty then! Now that we have that done, let’s turn our attention back to getting those oysters to the dinner table. I opted to cook them outside since I am fortunate to have a grill with an eye. A couple of pieces of advice here. I don’t fry much but there really is an art to doing it right. First, choose a medium sized pan and cook the food in batches. More is not better as it cools the grease down too quickly and everything becomes….well, greasy.
Next, use vegetable oil. Not lard and not canola. We are practically the only place on the planet that allows canola to be used for anything other than lubricating machinery. Fill your skillet about 1/4 full and allow the grease to get hot. It will begin to look “shiny” when it is about at the right temp. Every grill and stove is different so you will need to experiment with the temperature setting but I suggest you start out hot, then turn down to medium. I check the readiness of the grease by putting a cool water droplet into the pan. If it jumps and slightly pops and crackles, you are ready to cook. If the pan goes insane and it sounds like it is going to explode, you are WAY too hot. If nothing happens all you are going to have is grease bombs if you drop those oysters in. The goal is to quickly cook the batter and heat the oyster without incinerating the exterior and leaving the inside cold.
Whew! I am tired but we gotta cook these bivalves. Now that your grease is just right (think Three Little Bears), drop them in one by one, only putting in about 7 or 8 in at a time. I know that there is room in the pan, but it will drop the temp of the grease down too low and then the batter will just absorb the grease and not be crisped by it.
Let the first side cook for several minutes. You will see the bottoms begin to turn a golden brown. Flip them over with a nice pair of long handled tongs and allow the second side to complete the beautiful crispy coating.
Isn’t that lovely? Makes my mouth water just looking at it. What doesn’t make mouth water is what a mess frying makes. This is why I cook these outside.
Yuck! But at least the inside of my house won’t smell like an attack of a fry-mac.
When these lovelies are done cooking, remove them to a tray lined with paper towels to absorb the extra grease. But I promise that there won’t be much at all. You will have a crunchy, tasty, slightly spicy batter with the reward of a creamy oyster inside just waiting to be devoured.
Now don’t keep these folks waiting any longer! Get this stuff plated up and let’s eat.
How about we round out this outdoor Summertime food fest with fresh sliced homegrown (me) heirloom tomatoes, fresh butter beans and new potatoes (me) with Buttermilk Fried Oysters and Homemade Cocktail Sauce. Delish!