Friday, December 26, 2008

Simple, Perfect, Deep Fried Oysters

Deep fried oysters, dipped in nothing but cornmeal and quick fried in a deep fryer - simple and perfect.

Deep Fried Oysters

I can still see my Daddy sitting in the garage at the home where I grew up, planted on a chair, sack of oysters between his knees, and that blunt shucking knife in his hand. I'd go out to watch him, more out of curiosity really than anything, because I certainly had no interest in those things at all. He'd work the knife around the edges of the shell, pop it open, tossing the shells into a bucket and adding one oyster after the other to a tall jar, along with the juices from the bottom shell. He got into an uninterrupted rhythm, and every once in awhile, he'd plop one of them right in his mouth, raw.

I did not at all understand the appeal, back then. Daddy would pass one of those oysters right up under my nose trying to convince me to try one and I would scowl as most teenagers at the thought. He finally aggravated me enough that I gave in and it was a love affair that slowly grew on me. I can't even imagine how many oysters I've consumed over my lifetime, watching them be shucked fresh onto an ice filled tray by the dozen, served with crackers, hot sauce and cocktail sauce, with a side of horseradish to stir in. Salty and sweet and fresh right out of our Gulf, I still prefer them on the smaller side myself, but I'll eat them however I get them so long as they are out of our Gulf.

When I shopped the other day I picked up some of those packaged fresh Gulf oysters - which I had purchased with no specific plan for them other than knowing I'd soon be in the mood for something different. If I would have had some fresh French bread, I would have made that into an oyster po'boy for sure! But, no worries, plain ole sandwich bread will do the trick, or even leftover buns, so I buttered 'em up, toasted them in a pan and piled on the fried oysters.

One pint of oysters is only good for about 2 people who love oysters. Any more folks than two and ya better pick up another pint or so. I use plain corn meal, no flour, least not for this way of eating them. I generally don't season the cornmeal either because I find our Gulf oysters to be plenty salty all on their own, so I use only cornmeal, straight up, simple and perfect. Our Gulf oysters are fine all on their own, but bowing to pressure from other folks who, I guess, don't get the benefit of fresh from the Gulf oysters, I've added some seasonings suggestions.

Pass the cocktail sauce and the hot sauce at the table.

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Recipe: Deep Fried Oysters

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 10 min |Cook time: 15 min |Yield: About 2 to 4 servings

  • 1 pint raw Gulf oysters, well drained (do not rinse)
  • 2 cups yellow corn meal
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon pepper or freshly cracked black pepper
  • Cooking oil (vegetable, canola) for deep frying (enough to fully cover oysters)
  • Hot pepper sauce and cocktail sauce, for the table, optional

Preheat the deep fryer to 375 degrees F or heat oil in a heavy pot or skillet over high heat until it shimmers. Season cornmeal and roll the oysters in the seasoned (*see cook's note about seasoning) cornmeal. Drop immediately into the hot oil, frying until crisp and golden brown, only a few minutes.

*Cook's Notes: Our Gulf oysters are good and salty, so no seasoning is really needed, other than a sprinkling of salt and pepper as soon as they come out of the fryer. If you're using another source of oysters, smell them. If they don't have the smell of the salty ocean to them, you'll probably want to season your dredge with the suggested seasonings.

If you don't happen to own a deep fryer I highly recommend getting one for deep frying foods if you have the space for it. It fries up food quickly and if you don't overuse your oil, you'll find fried foods to be much lighter - meaning much less greasy when using a deep fat fryer. I own one with a filtration system - and I use all the time and I love it - but, you can certainly fry these up in an cast iron skillet or some other heavy bottomed frying pan too.


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Check These Oyster Recipes Out Too Y'all!

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Southern Cornbread and Oyster Stuffing

Posted by on December 26, 2008
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