Consider the oyster
February 23, 2014 4:06 PM   Subscribe

Help me fry the perfect oyster. Requirements: keep the oyster flavor. Preferences: saute, not deep fry; a light breading other than cornmeal. (This question isn't about raw v. cooked. Yes, I know, most oyster lovers swear raw is best. But I bet they never stopped at a certain little shack alongside US 17 in S Carolina.)
posted by LonnieK to Food & Drink (12 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Dredge them in Wondra (converted flour). It makes the perfect, crisp, light breading.
posted by HotToddy at 4:08 PM on February 23, 2014 [2 favorites]

Charbroiled Oysters are the best way to cook oysters.

It is known.
posted by Sara C. at 4:23 PM on February 23, 2014 [5 favorites]

Panko is great for either sautéing or broiling oysters. A recipe like this is a decent base (adjusted for the flavours you choose), although I can't vouch for/support the hot sauce recipe they choose.

I think the key for sautéing these without them ending up greasy or losing the flavour is high heat - deep frying and broiling are near foolproof techniques for that reason. Oil should be very, very hot when you're adding the oysters, and don't crowd your pan - do a few at a time.
posted by rutabega at 4:26 PM on February 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

Marinate in buttermilk. Toss in flour. Fry in a medium-high pan with a neutral oil like canola.

Use a deep pan, your fat should come no more than 1/3 the way up the sides of the pan or you risk boil-over and scary kitchen fires.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 4:27 PM on February 23, 2014

If you want to keep more oyster flavor, you want to avoid rinsing the oyster or losing the oyster liquor/brine. For my own purposes, I keep the oyster as wet as possible in its own liquor, and dredge it in cornmeal using only that liquid to adhere the breading, and shallow-fry immediately.

You can instead dredge in corn starch, but it will require the oyster to be a bit drier if you want it to get crispy, and you're truly sauteing (less than 1/4-inch of oil) rather than shallow-frying. If by "keep the oyster flavor" you don't mean that you prefer purity of flavor, you might also enjoy adding some white pepper and mild chile powder to the corn starch.

This, of course, likely won't be anything like what you've had at that certain little shack. They probably used some kind of seasoned wheat flour, batter, or maybe even an egg/buttermilk dredge.
posted by WasabiFlux at 4:36 PM on February 23, 2014

My dad fried fresh oysters in pulverized soda crackers.
posted by maggieb at 5:36 PM on February 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

This will sound déclassé, but I once had fried oysters that had been coated in crushed sour cream and onion potato chips, and they were absolutely delicious.
posted by Faint of Butt at 5:45 PM on February 23, 2014 [3 favorites]

I was wondering if dredging in hush puppy dry batter mix (the pre-made kind) wouldn't be EVERY type of awesome, since hush puppies and seafood are excellent together?

Please try it and let me know!

Also, I work in oysters. I'm pretty sure 3/4's of the trick is using fresh shucked oysters in their shell, not oysters in a jar.

Good luck!
posted by jbenben at 7:00 PM on February 23, 2014

Really, the vitally important thing is to cook 'em fast and only briefly. Remove the thought of the oyster being undercooked from your brain; even just kissing the oyster with heat changes the texture. If you've got any color on your breading, there's no way you're going to feel like you're biting into a raw oyster.

Otherwise: Don't rinse off the oyster liquor. Dredging in panko is nice, so is cracker meal (which is what's traditional to my people, the Baltimoreans), flour with a pinch of salt is fine. Freshly-shucked are better, but honestly, good-quality jarred ones certainly hit the spot just fine. Use whatever oil you like. I shallow-fry them and drain for a moment on paper towels.

Oh, I hope I don't have to say to cook them one at a time. My people have this horrible unfortunate tradition of taking several perfectly pretty little small oysters and slapping them together into a puck. It takes too long to cook and makes the oysters tough and fucking terrible-tasting.
posted by desuetude at 10:21 PM on February 23, 2014 [2 favorites]

I grew up on the North Carolina coast, and have a large collection of old church cookbooks from the region. Church cookbooks being the very best source for excellent fried seafood recipes, I just leafed through the few I have at hand. The recipes all go pretty much like this:

Crack 2 eggs in a bowl, add a tiny splash of milk, beat lightly
Dip oysters in mixture
Roll lightly in seasoned cracker meal (very finely crushed soda crackers, seasoned with salt & pepper)
Pan-fry in fat of choice 1-2 minutes on each side--turn just as the edges begin to curl
Serve hot with lemon wedges and tartar sauce

Some call for a double breading (crumbs, then egg mixture, then crumbs again), but I know from experience that gives a pretty thick crust. One calls for seasoning the cracker crumbs with red pepper in addition to salt and pepper.
posted by rhiannonstone at 12:39 PM on February 24, 2014

Thanks all for the wisdom. I'll work thru it all eventually.
Tonite I did something along the lines of rhiannonstone's -- can't resist them church cookbooks. Jarred oysters in egg, cracker meal, hot oil. Very tasty, kept a decent oyster flavor -- though the coating didn't adhere well after cooking.
Only used 1/3 jar, so plenty more for further work.
posted by LonnieK at 5:17 PM on March 11, 2014

Tried em all and not a fail among them. But I keep coming back to desuetude's -- so simple & clean. Thx all!
posted by LonnieK at 10:42 AM on February 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

« Older Can I break up with someone over chat?   |   How can I boost the signal in my room cheaply? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.